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Parental Substance Use, Opioid Misuse, and Child Welfare: A Mixed Methods Research Study

  • Robin Ghertner and Annette Waters
  • January 24 2018
  • W38-2018

Substance use can have damaging effects on families and may reduce parents’ ability to safely care for their children. After years of decline, foster care caseloads increased by 8 percent from 2011 to 2015. This increase has concerned child welfare practitioners and policymakers, and many have pointed to the opioid epidemic as a major contributing factor. Despite the anecdotes, there has not been nationwide empirical evidence to support this. In this webinar, Robin Ghertner and Annette Waters (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, US Department of Health and Human Services) will present results from a mixed methods study demonstrating that there is a relationship between substance use and opioid misuse prevalence, and child welfare outcomes. They will also discuss the mechanisms by which parental substance use has led to the rise in caseloads, and the unique challenges the current opioid epidemic is presenting to child welfare systems.


Child Maltreatment & Child Welfare System, Children, Family & Partnering, Health, Mental Health & Substance Abuse, Parenting


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