Substance use disorder

Raising safe and healthy children can be difficult for any parent, but parents affected by substance use disorders can find it especially challenging to meet the basic physical, psychological, and emotional needs of their children. And often, the devastation of having their child removed can throw parents deeper into addiction. While substance abuse is not a new challenge, the opioid crisis is placing increasing demands on the child welfare system. Federal data from 2017 found that about 39 percent of children in foster care had been removed due to parental substance abuse.

Identifying substance abuse and meeting the complex needs of parents with substance use disorders and those of their children can be challenging. However, many states are implementing innovative and evidence-informed interventions that are yielding positive results, such as recovery coaches and family-focused residential treatment centers. These kinds of interventions can assist parents as they navigate recovery and build their capacities to be nurturing caregivers.


Adorable African American preschool boy smiles cheerfully as he plays with his friend in his preschool classroom.

What is the impact of substance abuse on child welfare?


Baby girl

How can family-based residential treatment programs help reduce substance use and improve child welfare outcomes?


Cropped portrait of a happy young family of three sitting outside in their backyard

What are family treatment courts and how do they improve outcomes for children and families?


Please explore the related resources below and at Questions from the field to learn more about substance use disorder.