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Project Description

California The Santa Clara County Family Wellness Court (FWC) for Infants and Toddlers was created to enhance and expand services for pregnant women and women with children birth to three who are risk of losing their children because of their addiction to methamphetamine or other drugs and documented child abuse or neglect. FWC is an enhancement of the model being used by the Santa Clara County Dependency Drug Treatment Court (DDTC), a previously implemented Drug Treatment Court for families in child welfare. While the program was initially designed to serve pregnant women and women with young children, services to fathers and the entire family were introduced in the second year due to the number of fathers and couples being referred to the court.

The FWC was comprised of a comprehensive drug court team that included a dedicated judge, child welfare staff, substance abuse treatment staff, mental health staff for both parents and children, attorneys for parents, children and the county, CASAs, Mentor Parents, children’s specialists, domestic violence services staff and public health nurses. Hallmarks of the model include:

  • Mentor Parents
  • Children’s screening, assessment and intervention services
  • Home visiting services
  • Intensive case management for the family
  • Evidence-based parenting programs
  • Fatherhood engagement and services
  • Family-focused services
  • Trauma informed court

501C-3 created to provide basic essentials to families, such a diapers, clothing and temporary assistance with basic needs.

Target Population

FWC targeted:

  • Pregnant women and parents with children 0 to 3, whose abuse of methamphetamine and other substances have placed their children in or at risk of out of home placement.

Major Project Goals

The grantee identified the following goals for the Family Wellness Court program:

  • Early identification of and intervention for pregnant women and mothers/parents;
  • Rapid engagement and successful retention in treatment and care;
  • Reduction in subsequent births to mothers who are abusing methamphetamine.
  • Early identification of and intervention for developmental delays, disabilities and concerns for children 0-3 whose parents come before the DDTC.
  • The creation of a comprehensive System of Care across all systems serving children who are in or at risk of out-of-home placement as a result of parents’ methamphetamine and other substance abuse.

Key Major Program Services

Case Management and In-Home Services

  • Intensive/Coordinated Case Management
  • Family Group Decision Making/Family Case Conferencing
  • Wraparound/Intensive In-Home Comprehensive Services

Parenting/Family Strengthening

  • Standard and Enhanced Parenting Skills Training/Education
  • Evidence-Based Parenting or Family Strengthening Program – Triple P, Nurturing Fathers, Touchpoints


  • Supervised Visitation
  • Supportive Supervised Visitation

Mental Health and Trauma Services for Adults

  • Trauma-Informed Services – Seeking Safety, Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TC-CBT), Trauma Services for Men

Substance Abuse Treatment for Adults

  • Long-Term Residential/Inpatient (more than 30 days)
  • Residential/Inpatient Treatment – Specialized for Parents with Children – Matrix Model
  • Non-Intensive Outpatient or Other Step-Down

Specialized Outreach, Engagement and Retention

  • Cognitive Behavioral Strategies – Motivational Interviewing, Contingency Management
  • Peer/Parent Mentor

Partner Agencies and Organizations

The FWC includes the following partners:

Child Welfare

  • County Child Welfare Agency

Substance Abuse

  • County Substance Abuse Agency
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Agency/Providers


  • Family Treatment Drug Court (FTDC)
  • Other Dependency Court
  • Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, Legal and Related Organizations

  • Attorneys General
  • Attorneys
  • Legal Services/Client Advocacy
  • Victim Witness

Mental Health and Health Services

  • County Mental Health Agency
  • Mental Health Services Provider(s)
  • County Public Health
  • Adult Health Services Provider/Hospital
  • Children's Health Provider/Hospital
  • Dental Services Provider
  • Children's Regional Centers


  • State/County Housing Agency
  • Housing/Homeless Services Provider


  • Early Childhood Services/Education Provider
  • Early Childhood Council/Coaition
  • Parenting Education/Services Provider


  • County Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF) or Welfare Office
  • Employment Services Provider

Other Community and Child and Family Services Home Visiting agency/Services Provider

  • Other Child Family Services Provider
  • Church/Faith-based Org
  • Domestic Violence Services Provider/ Agency
  • Peer/ Parent/ Mentor Group or Network
  • Other Community Stakeholder Group

Other Evaluation and Training

  • Evaluator (University-affiliated or other)
  • Consultant/ Training
  • University Child Welfare Research Development

Performance Indicators


  • Children remained at home (never were removed) (8% vs. 1% in the comparison group)


  • Children were reunified with at least one parent (74% vs. 44% in the comparison group)


  • Received access to timely substance abouse assessment (45 days vs. 160 days for the comparison group)
  • Received access to timely substance abuse treatment (65 days vs. 245 days for the comparison group)
  • Decreased substance use at program entry (58% to the most recent follow-up (20%)


  • Though comprehensive services to children and families continues to be on of the hallmarks of the program, tracking and reporting on services data (e.g. children's screening and assessment, intervention services, housing, transportation, dental services and other supportive services) proved burdensome for those agencies provideing the services.

Sustainability Status

Despite ongoing and significant budget problems throughout the five years of this grant, in Year five all partners committed to continuing all programs and services that were provided to the Family Wellness Court (FWC) during the RPG grant.  The only program without an additional source of funding was the Mentor Parents Program.  The Dependency Advocacy Center (DAC) and the FWC previously received a Bureau of Justice Administration grant that partially funded four positions part-time.  All partners made a joint presentation to the Board of Supervisors advocating for funding for this program.  The County Board of Supervisors voted to approve additional monies to support transitioning the four part-time Mentor Parents to full-time mentors with employee benefits.  The board also approved funding for a much needed part-time clinician to support the Mentor Parents around issues relating to secondary trauma and client engagement.

The FWC model was then integrated into the Santa Clara County Dependency Drug Treatment Court (DDTC).  This move ensured that all families coming before the DDTC received the comprehensive array of services and team apporach developed through the FWC, while retaining specialty services for children birth to three.

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Project Details

  • Lead Agency:
    County of Santa Clara, Social Services Agency
  • Geographic Area and Congressional District Served:
    County of Santa Clara; Congressional District 10, 13-16
  • Federal Grant:
    $1 million/5 years
  • Evaluation Design and Comparison Group Type:
    Quasi-experimental, Historical and Usual Child Welfare/Substance Abuse Services
  • Proposed Number Served (5 years):
    Children: 431
    Adults: 378
    Families: 262
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