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Evaluation Study of Parental Substance Abuse & Child Maltreatment


Dr. Glenda Kaufman Kantor, Family Research Laboratory, UNH, is the Principal Investigator overseeing this demonstration project evaluation, under contract with the State of New Hampshire’s Division of Children Youth & Families. The major aims of this five year project, begun in November of 1999, are to:

1)      Identify and address parental substance abuse problems that may place children at-risk and result in the placement of children in foster care, or the placement of children with their parents in residential treatment facilities.

2)      Reduce the substance abuse risk behaviors of the parent (caretaker), and

3)      Prevent or shorten placement of the children in foster care.

 A key component of this project is the inclusion of a specialist skilled in the areas of substance abuse and child protective services.  The project specialist will conduct substance abuse assessments of parents referred for reasons of abuse or neglect of their children when the use of alcohol or other drugs is believed to be a contributing factor.  When substance abuse interventions are deemed necessary on an ongoing basis, the specialist will assist demonstration project families in accessing intensive, community-based services, and will assist the Child Protective Services Case Worker by provide ongoing, intensive case management services to targeted families.  The underlying assumption of the project is that if given immediate and intensive services, targeted families will become better able to manage their substance abuse behaviors in order to provide a safe, nurturing environment for their children.  This should result in the prevention of placement or a reduction in the length of stay of children in out-of-home care.

An experimental evaluation design is being used  to test the hypothesis that improved assessment and services will result in a reduction of length of stay for children in out-of-home placement, and ultimately improved well-being for children and families.

This evaluation is being conducted in two NH cities, Nashua and Manchester.  Included are families with reports of abuse/neglect that are determined as: 1) Credible and therefore assigned to district offices for assessment;  2) “High risk” or “At-Risk;

3) Involving substance abuse as a factor in the alleged abuse/neglect; 4) Located by DCYF with an assessment completed.

Approximately 400 families meeting the study criteria were asked to participate in special treatment or a standard services group in each of the two districts where the demonstration project is being conducted.  The major difference between the interventions being provided to the enhanced and comparison groups, is that the enhanced group may get assessment and ongoing case management by the substance abuse specialist. No child or adult was deprived of needed substance abuse services because of this project.

To date over two hundred baseline and 75 follow-up interviews have been conducted. Follow-up interviews are focused on assessing the well-being of parents and children, parent’s utilization of services, and experiences with DCYF.


 Parental Substance Abuse & Child Maltreatment Evaluation Results From Project First Step: New Hampshire’s IV-E Waiver Demonstration


Phone: 603-862-1888
Crimes Against Children Research Center
University of New Hampshire 126 Horton Social Science Center
Durham, NH 03824
Fax: 603-862-1122