In Brief

Children whose parents misuse alcohol and drugs are almost three times as likely to be abused, research shows, and more than four times as likely to be neglected than children of parents who don't abuse drugs and alcohol. Congres-sional legislation is seeking to address that problem by encouraging state child welfare and alcohol and drug treatment and prevention agencies to work together to combat child maltreatment in families with drug and alcohol problems.

The bill would provide about $1.9 billion over five years, with 1 percent of that amount reserved for research and training.

Under the proposed legislation, the agencies would submit a joint application to receive federal funding for projects to prevent child abuse. Agencies would be required to show how they would coordinate to meet the alcohol and drug prevention and treatment needs of families in the child welfare system and to promote child safety and family stability. Possible projects would include prevention and early intervention services for parents at risk for alcohol and drug problems, comprehensive home-based, outpatient and residential treatment programs and after-care support for families in recovery.

Services the bill would fund include:

  • Improved alcohol and drug abuse screening and assessment procedures for families.

  • Cross-agency training for alcohol and drug prevention and child welfare personnel.

  • Improved data collection on families receiving services within alcohol and drug prevention and child welfare systems.

The bill would also provide money to research the effectiveness of substance-abuse intervention for families with alcohol and drug problems in the child welfare system.

Senators Olympia Snowe (R­Maine), Mike DeWine (R­Ohio), Christopher Dodd (D­Conn.) and Jay Rockefeller (D­W.Va.) introducedS. 2435, "The Child Protection Alcohol and Drug Partnership Act," in April. Hearings are expected this summer.

"Historically, collaboration between child welfare and substance abuse service systems has been inconsistent across jurisdictions," says Dan Dodgen, PhD, senior legislative and federal affairs officer in APA's Public Policy Office, Dodger represented APA in a coalition of organizations that encouraged lawmakers to introduce the legislation. Other participants included the Child Welfare League of America, the Children's Defense Fund and the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors.

--L. RABASCA