Center for Drug Abuse Prevention in the Child Welfare System

Based on Research Conducted at OSLC

Scientists and national experts integrate knowledge to help fill the gaps in drug abuse prevention research, practice, and policy.

Project Overview

The Center for Drug Abuse Prevention in the Child Welfare System brings together scientists and national experts to integrate knowledge from 32 federally-funded completed and ongoing studies which will help fill the gaps in drug abuse prevention research, practice, and policy. Within this framework, the team will seek to provide more informed conceptualization of evidence-based interventions for children and families in the Child Welfare System, increase implementation of these interventions, and, ultimately, reduce the incidence of drug abuse and related problems.

Led by Principal Investigator John Reid, the Center includes 11 multi-disciplinary scientists and an external advisory board comprised of local and national experts in child services, policy, and substance use research. The Center’s senior scientists include Patricia ChamberlainDave DeGarmoPhil FisherJohn LandsverkLeslie Leve, and Katherine Pears. Support is also planned for the professional development of four scientists (Jackie BruceHyoun KimLisa Saldana, and Dana Smith).

Specifically, the Center will study three primary focus areas: the relationship between stress, neurobiology, and genetics and drug abuse, the role of fathers in the child welfare system, and an economic evaluation of a set of child welfare costs related specifically to the placement of children in out-of-home care.

Stress, Neurobiology and Genetics and Drug Abuse: By building upon current studies, the Center seeks to merge behavioral and biological research using cutting edge neurobiological and genetic technologies, which may include functional MRIs, EEGs as well as collection of DNA and cortisol (a stress hormone). These projects will aim to increase understanding of the stress, attentional, and behavioral capacities in families affected by drug abuse.

Fathers in the Child Welfare System: Fathers are highly influential in the outcomes of children’s lives, yet they tend to be under-researched and under-served. The Center seeks to develop father-specific services and parent management training approaches to help decrease the risk for drug use of their children.

Economic Evaluation of Child Welfare Costs: Finally, the Center will conduct an economic evaluation of child welfare services and outcomes (i.e., foster placement disruptions and reunification failures) by adapting a Cost-Calculator measure developed in England to child welfare systems in the U.S. The cost of child welfare services is relatively understudied, yet bears direct implications for policy decisions in face of increasing child welfare populations and shrinking budgets.

Collectively, the Center aims to increase the impact of the current federal grants as well as influence the development of new proposals, collaborations, and services, all of which could have direct implications for drug abuse prevention policy and programming in collaboration with the Child Welfare System.

Year Project Began: 2008
Funder: National Institute on Drug Abuse