Sobriety Support Program Among A Dozen New Candidates for Federal Child Welfare Funding

Family First

A popular model that supports child welfare-involved parents through addiction treatment is among 12 new candidates under review for new federal funding. 

Sobriety Treatment And Recovery Teams, known as START, is a model started in Kentucky that hinges on a specially trained caseworker and rapid access to substance abuse services. The goal is to avoid a delay in treatment that could potentially be dangerous to a child in the home, and keep an ally close to parents during their fight to get sober. 

START was among the models profiled in congressional briefings as the Senate Finance Committee was developing what would become the Family First Prevention Services Act. The law, which passed in 2018 and mostly took effect in October, permits states to tap into the Title IV-E child welfare entitlement to help pay for parenting, substance abuse and mental health services meant to prevent the need for foster care in some cases. Previously, IV-E was limited to expenditures on foster care and adoption.

The Prevention Services Clearinghouse will decide whether the existing research on START will earn it one of the three ratings that make a program IV-E eligible: “Well-Supported,” “Supported” or “Promising.” 

The program has already received a rating of “Promising” from a similar clearinghouse, and studies have found that parents receiving START achieved sobriety and retained custody at twice the rate of a comparison group. 

Eleven other programs are under initial review by the clearinghouse:

  • Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach: An intervention to support the recovery of adolescents and young adults who struggle with drug dependence. 
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Has adults confront their emotions and beliefs while also focusing on external stimuli. 
  • Family Centered Treatment: A four-phase plan where clinicians make the decision about when a family struggling with internal conflict is ready to advance.
  • Family Check-up: Trains caregivers to replace coercive or negative parenting with positive approaches when dealing with child adjustment problems. 
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents: A psychosocial treatment for depression among youth between 12 and 18. 
  • Iowa Parent Partner Approach: Uses parents with previous experience with reunification from foster care to help support parents in active child welfare cases. 
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy: Professionals help adolescents productively relive and confront trauma such as child abuse. 
  • The Matrix Model: Combines motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy and social support networks to help treat drug dependence in adults. 
  • Trust-Based Relational Intervention: A caregiver training that helps parents guide kids who had problematic early childhoods back onto the right development trajectory. 
  • Youth Villages Intercept: Combines intensive in-home parent training with mental health services. 

The clearinghouse is re-reviewing SafeCare, along with what it describes in the announcement as an “augmented” version of the home visiting program focused on parent-child interaction, health care and home safety. The model initially received a rating of Supported – a bump up to Well Supported would make it more attractive to child welfare agencies, because eventually half of all IV-E prevention spending will need to be on programs with the highest rating. 

START has actually received temporary approval for Family First Act funding a few months ago, as part of Kentucky’s prevention plan. That means states can seek IV-E funds for the program while the clearinghouse reviews it, and can continue to do so unless it does get a rating of Promising or higher. Family Centered Treatment was also conditionally approved for funding as part of Arkansas’ recently approved prevention plan.

The clearinghouse has reviewed 25 programs and approved 14 of them.

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
About John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change 1212 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at jkelly@chronicleofsocialchange.org.