Project Connect worked with high-risk families affected by problems of parental substance abuse and involved in the child welfare system. Project Connect served families in all of Rhode Island’s 39 communities. Staff offered home-based counseling, nursing services and service linkage to services such as substance abuse treatment, safe and affordable housing and adequate health care for parents and their children. The program worked collaboratively with other providers, notably the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), to coordinate services for families and to advocate for improvements in service delivery. The program staff was co-located in each of DCYF’s regional offices, facilitating referrals and increasing child welfare worker’s access to expertise on substance abuse.
Project Connect targeted:
High-risk families affected by problems of parental substance abuse and involved in the child welfare system
Major Project Goals
Expanding statewide a proven, evidence-based comprehensive community-based program for substance-affected families involved in the child welfare system;
Establishing a coordinated, system-wide response and training program for child welfare and community providers regarding children and families affected by a parent’s use of methamphetamine and/or other substances;
Increasing service coordination throughout Rhode Island between DCYF, substance abuse treatment providers, the medical community, the court and community-based agencies.
Key Major Program Services
Case Management and In-Home Services
Intensive Case Management
Wraparound/Intensive In-Home Comprehensive Services
Mental Health and Trauma Services for Adults
Mental Health Services
Specialized Outreach, Engagement and Retention
Screening and Assessment – Child Welfare and Other Children’s Issues
Screening and Assessment for Child Welfare Issues
Specialized Child Screening and Assessment – Developmental
Screening/Assessment – Substance Use and Other Adult Issues
Screening and Assessment for Substance Use Disorders
Specialized Screening and Assessment – Family Functioning
Partner Agencies and Organizations
The Project Connect Project includes the following partners:
Department on Child, Youth and Families
Institute for Addiction Recovery at the Rhode Island College and the Women in Recovery Task Force
Family Treatment Drug Court (FTDC)
Criminal Justice, Law enforcement, Legal and Related Organizations
Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals
Recurrence of Maltreatment: A total of 357 families were tracked over the five years to identify the extent to which families participating in the program were re-indicated for abuse or neglect. The six-month recurrence rate for Project Connect children was 2.1 percent. The national standard established by the Children’s Bureau calls for a six-month rate no higher than 5.4 percent and in 2010, Rhode Island reported a six-month recurrence rate of 9.8 percent.
Reunification: Among those children who were removed from the home after their initial contact with Project Connect, 77.0 percent were reunified with their parents.
Adult and Child Well-Being
Substance Exposed Newborn: Babies born to Project Connect parents were typically born substance-free; 91.0 percent of the children born while their parents were receiving services tested negative for illicit substances at their birth.
Mental Health and Parenting: Seventy-six percent of the parents who were highly involved in services showed improvements in their mental health; 72.0 percent showed improvements in their parenting abilities.
Completion of Substance Abuse Treatment: Sixty-three percent of the parents receiving substance abuse treatment successfully completed treatment. Parents who were highly involved in Project Connect services were the most likely to complete treatment.
The Project Connect contract for all the foundational services developed and provided over the past 20 years will continue via a direct contract with the state through DCYF. Services will continue to be billed directly to Medicaid. Children’s Friend and Services has also committed to keeping the program services statewide and the staff members co-located in the DCYF regional offices.
Children’s Friend and Services was awarded a four-year demonstration grant through the National Abandoned Infants Assistance (AIA) Resource Center. The grant allows agency programs to work collaboratively on: 1) increasing protective factors; 2) strengthening families; and, 3) improving overall well-being for children of families affected by substance abuse, HIV/AIDs or other significant health issues.