The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) has been in operation since 2002 and is funded jointly by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF), Children’s Bureau. The NCSACW develops virtual and onsite educational materials and training curricula; maintains an extensive web presence; and provides a range of technical assistance activities for agencies representing health and social service providers including substance use disorder treatment, child welfare services, family courts, public health, healthcare, maternal and child health, and early childhood. Primary tenets of NCSACW are to support systems change, improve practice, and reduce stigma related to families affected by substance use disorders. This is accomplished through enhanced agency collaboration that is based on a shared understanding of the needs and challenges of these families and the systems that serve them.
The NCSACW provides consultation, training, and technical assistance to support agencies and professionals develop or enhance policies, practices, and procedures that benefit families and improve their outcomes. The NCSACW also researches, compiles, and shares examples of successful programs with other jurisdictions to expand best practices in communities across the country. Brief consultation and technical assistance support are provided by phone, email, or web-based technologies to provide information, resources, publications, guidance, and effective strategies.
The NCSACW’s In-Depth Technical Assistance uses a phased approach to assess strengths and system challenges, implement practice and system changes, and improve information sharing to monitor family and system outcomes. This program of intensive technical assistance provides relationship-based coaching and support for varying lengths of engagement with collaborative teams who apply for assistance. The NCSACW staff members also assist grant programs such as Regional Partnership Grants funded by ACYF’s Children’s Bureau or to SAMHSA grantees to ensure their success.
The Regional Partnership Grant (RPG) Program is administered by the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families, Children’s Bureau to improve the well-being of children affected by parental substance use disorders. The grants support interagency collaborations and integration of programs, services, and activities designed to increase the well-being, improve the permanency, and enhance the safety of children who are in, or at risk of, out-of-home placements as the result of a parent or caregiver’s substance use disorder. The partnerships implement a range of activities and interventions, including peer recovery coaching, family-centered substance use disorder treatment, parenting and family strengthening programs, services to pregnant and postpartum women, medication assisted treatment, in-home parenting and child safety support for families, and related evidence-based practices. Since 2007, Children’s Bureau has awarded six rounds of RPG funding to 109 grant projects across 38 states, tribal communities and counties.
NCSACW provides programmatic technical assistance to the RPG grantees on a variety of topics, including collaborative practice and policy, program sustainability, trauma-informed services, evidence-based and evidence-informed services to children, treatment and recovery support services, and family-centered substance use disorder intervention and treatment practices for women and families.
NCSACW’s In-Depth Technical Assistance (IDTA) program advances the capacity of states, tribes, and their community partner agencies to improve the safety, health, permanency, well-being, and recovery outcomes for families affected by substance use disorders. This 18- to 24-month program strengthens cross-system collaboration and linkages among the child welfare and substance use disorder treatment systems and the courts, as well as maternal and infant health care providers, public health providers, early care and education systems, home visiting providers, and other key partners. Since the program’s inception in 2003, 26 unique sites have engaged in IDTA, including two county sites, four tribal sites, and 20 states.
In 2014, NCSACW focused the IDTA program on assisting states and tribes with addressing the needs of infants and families affected by prenatal substance exposure and the recovery of pregnant and parenting women and their families. IDTA also assists states in developing policies and protocols to align with the prenatal substance exposure provisions in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016, which amended sections of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
The IDTA model is based on the premise that sites are more likely to successfully implement meaningful and sustainable policy and practice change when they receive targeted training, technical assistance, and coaching in sufficient depth and duration, through strategic phases and with the support of a dedicated Change Liaison (CL).