Family Treatment Drug Courts

FTDCs, alternatively known as dependency drug courts or family drug courts, use a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to serve families who require substance use disorder treatment and who are involved with the child welfare system. Well-functioning FTDCs bring together substance use disorder treatment, child welfare services, mental health, and social services agencies in a non-adversarial approach. FTDCs seek to provide safe environments for children, intensive judicial monitoring, and interventions to treat parents’ substance use disorders and other co-occurring risk factors. FTDC outcomes include higher rates of participation and longer stays in substance use disorder treatment, family reunification, and less time for children in foster care.

Contact us at ncsacw@cffutures.org or 1(866) 493-2758 to learn more about FTDCs and how to enhance or expand FTDC models.

Policy and Practice Resources

  • National Strategic Plan for Family Drug CourtsNational Strategic Plan for Family Drug Courts(PDF 443 KB)
    Children and Family Futures, 2017

    Developed with a diverse group of stakeholders, the plan provides the rationale for family drug court (FDC) expansion, summarizes the history and current status of FDC implementation, and delineates goals, strategies, and activities for FDC quality improvement and expansion. The primary goals are interrelated, as all three are needed to improve child and family well-being:
    • Improve the effectiveness of the existing FDC network by assuring it operates with fidelity to the FDC model;
    • Expand the reach of FDCs to keep families together and reduce child maltreatment and;
    • Continue to build the evidence base about what works for FDCs to improve outcomes for children and their parents.
  • Transitioning to a Family-Centered Approach: Best Practices and Lessons from Three Adult Drug CourtsTransitioning to a Family-Centered Approach: Best Practices and Lessons from Three Adult Drug Courts (PDF 979 KB)
    Children and Family Futures and National Drug Court Institute, 2017

    This case study looks at three adult drug courts (ADCs) that are in the process of transitioning from a traditional ADC to one that has expanded services to families and children of program participants. The purpose of the study was to obtain information about the ADC core team members’ experiences and perceptions of the ADC processes as well as the programs’ successes and challenges as they increased their services to address the needs of children and families. The case studies found 10 key strategies for implementing a family-focused approach.

State and Local Examples

  • Family Drug Court TTA Project (FDC TTA)
    Children and Family Futures, 2017

    This project works to improve outcomes for children and families by providing training and technical assistance to state and local courts, local government, and tribes to build their capacity to develop, maintain, and enhance FDCs. The project helps FDCs develop cross-system collaboration, implement effective evidence-based practices, conduct needs assessments, develop strategic plans, provide staff training and development, conduct research and evaluation, and develop sustainability plans.
  • Family Drug Court Peer Learning Court Program
    Children and Family Futures, 2017

    The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has identified nine successful family drug courts to serve as best practice models. This peer-to-peer technical assistance facilitates the sharing of evidence-based practices, policies, and lessons learned increasing collaboration among courts, child welfare, substance use treatment agencies, and other partner agencies.
  • Statewide System Reform Program (SSRP)
    Children and Family Futures, 2017

    The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has selected five states as part of a program to expand the family drug courts’ (FDCs) scale and infuse effective FDC practices to serve more families in the child welfare system who are affected by substance use disorders.

Additional Resources

  • Family Drug Court (FDC) Online Tutorial
    Children and Family Futures, 2017

    FDC Online Tutorial provides an FDC 101 overview in an interactive five module self-paced learning environment that includes resource links, case studies, questions, and information boxes to enhance participants’ learning experience.
  • Family Drug Court Learning Academy
    Children and Family Futures, 2017

    The Learning Academy is a series of web-based trainings that are responsive to the developmental stages of family drug courts. The Learning Academy series include: planning community, early implementation community, enhanced community, leading change, and virtual classroom discussion series.
  • Family Drug Court (FDC) Blog
    Children and Family Futures, 2017

    The FDC blog facilitates learning, knowledge sharing, and information dissemination between FDC professionals.

Related Research Articles

Family Treatment Drug Court Models

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.(2011). Introduction to cross-system data resources in child welfare, alcohol and other drug services, and courts. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 11-4630. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. From http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//SMA11-4630/SMA11-4360.pdf (accessed August 17, 2017).

Children and Family Futures. (2011). The collaborative practice model for family recovery, safety and stability. Irvine, CA: Children and Family Futures. From http://www.cffutures.org/files/PracticeModel.pdf (accessed August 17, 2017).

Choi, S. (2012). Family drug courts and child welfare. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 29(1), 447-461.

Fay-Ramirez, S. (2015). Therapeutic jurisprudence in practice: Changes in family treatment court norms over time. Law & Social Inquiry, 40(1), 205-236. doi:10.1111/lsi.12067

Gifford, E. J., Eldred, L. M., Sloan, F. A., & Evans, K. E. (2016). Parental criminal justice involvement and children's involvement with child protective services: Do adult drug treatment courts prevent child maltreatment? Substance Use & Misuse, 51(2),179-192.

Heideman, R. J., Cole-Mossman, J., Hoetger, L., & Hazen, K. (2016). Giving parents a voice: A case study of a family treatment drug court track in Lancaster County, Nebraska. Court Review, 52(1)), 36-42.

Huddleston, W., & Marlowe, D. B. (2011). Painting the current picture: A national report on drug courts and other problem-solving court programs in the United States. Alexandria, VA: National Drug Court Institute. From http://www.ndci.org/sites/default/files/nadcp/PCP%20Report%20FINAL.PDF (accessed August 17, 2017).

Lloyd, M. H., & Brook, J. (2014). Strengths based approaches to practice and family drug courts: Is there a fit? Journal of Family Strengths, 14(1), 1-23.

Lloyd, M. H., Johnson, T., & Brook, J. (2014). Illuminating the black box from within: Stakeholder perspectives on family drug court best practices. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 14(4), 378-401.

Marlowe, D. B. (2011). The verdict on drug courts and other problem-solving courts. Chapman Journal of Criminal Justice, 2, 53-92.

Marlowe, D. B., & Carey, S. M. (2012). Need to know: Research update on family drug courts. Alexandria, VA: National Association of Drug Court Professionals.From http://www.nadcp.org/sites/default/files/nadcp/Reseach%20Update%20on%20Family%20Drug%20Courts%20-%20NADCP.pdf (accessed August 17, 2017).

National Association of Drug Court Professionals. (2013). Adult drug court best practice standards volume 1. Alexandria, VA: Author. From http://www.nadcp.org/sites/default/files/nadcp/AdultDrugCourtBestPracticeStandards.pdf (accessed August 17, 2017).

National Association of Drug Court Professionals. (2015). Adult drug court best practice standards volume II. Alexandria, VA: Author. From http://www.nadcp.org/sites/default/files/2014/Best%20Practice%20Standards%20Vol.%20II._0.pdf (accessed August 17, 2017).

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. 2016. Enhanced resource guidelines: Improving court practice in child abuse and neglect cases. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Van Wormer, J., & Hsieh, M. L. (2016). Healing families: Outcomes from a family drug treatment court. Juvenile & Family Court Journal 67(2), 49-65.

Cost Savings of Family Drug Courts

Brook, J., Akin, B. A., Lloyd, M. H., Johnson‐Motoyama, M., & Yan, Y. (2016).Family drug treatment courts as comprehensive service models: Cost considerations. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 67(3)), 23-43. doi:10.1111/jfcj.12060

Children and Family Futures. (2014). Sustainability matrix. , 213-217. From http://www.cffutures.org/files/publications/Sustainability%20Matrix.pdf (accessed August 17, 2017).

Evaluation and Outcomes of Family Treatment Drug Courts

Boles, S., & Young, N. K. (2010). Sacramento county dependency drug court year seven outcome and process evaluation findings. Irvine, CA: Children and Family Futures. From http://www.cffutures.org/files/publications/Year%207%20Summary%20Report%20Final.pdf (accessed August 17, 2017).

Boles, S. M., Young, N. K., Dennis, K., & DeCerchio, K. (2012). The Regional Partnership Grant (RPG) Program: Enhancing collaboration, promising results. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 6(4), 482-496. From http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15548732.2012.705239 (accessed August 17, 2017).

Brook, J., Akin, B. A., Lloyd, M. H., & Yan, Y. (2015). Family drug court, targeted parent training and family reunification: Did this enhanced service strategy make a difference? Juvenile & Family Court Journal, 66(2), 35-52.

Bruns, E. J., Pullmann, M. D., Weathers, E. S., Wirschem, M. L., & Murphy, J. K. (2012). ). Effects of a multidisciplinary family treatment drug court on child and family outcomes: Results of a quasi-experimental study. Child Maltreatment, 17(3) , 218-230. doi:10.1177/1077559512454216

Child, H., & McIntyre, D. (2015). Examining the relationships between family drug court program compliance and child welfare outcomes. Child Welfare, 94(5), 67-87.

Cosden, M., & Koch, L. M. (2015). Changes in adult, child, and family functioning among participants in a family treatment drug court. Child Welfare, 94(5)), 89-106.

Drabble, L. A., Haun, L. L., Kushins, H., & Cohen, E. (2016). Measuring client satisfaction and engagement: The role of a mentor parent program in family drug treatment court. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 67(1) , 19-32. doi:10.1111/jfcj.12053

Lens, V. (2016). Engaging parents in family court: Lessons from an observational study of child protection cases. Journal of Social Work, 17(2) , 129-146. doi:10.1177/1468017316637589

Pollock, M. D., & Green, S. L. (2015). Effects of a rural family drug treatment court collaborative on child welfare outcomes: Comparison using propensity score analysis. Child Welfare, 94(4) , 139-159.

Sloan, F. A., Gifford, E. J., Eldred, L. M., Acquah, K. F., & Blevins, C. E. (2013). Do specialty courts achieve better outcomes for children in foster care than general courts? Evaluation Review, 37(1) , 3-34. doi:10.1177/0193841X13487536

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