Parental Criminal Justice Involvement and Children's Involvement With Child Protective Services: Do Adult Drug Treatment Courts Prevent Child Maltreatment?

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BACKGROUND: In light of evidence showing reduced criminal recidivism and cost savings, adult drug treatment courts have grown in popularity. However, the potential spillover benefits to family members are understudied. OBJECTIVES: To examine: (1) the overlap between parents who were convicted of a substance-related offense and their children's involvement with child protective services (CPS); and (2) whether parental participation in an adult drug treatment court program reduces children's risk for CPS involvement. METHODS: Administrative data from North Carolina courts, birth records, and social services were linked at the child level. First, children of parents convicted of a substance-related offense were matched to (a) children of parents convicted of a nonsubstance-related offense and (b) those not convicted of any offense. Second, we compared children of parents who completed a DTC program with children of parents who were referred but did not enroll, who enrolled for <90 days but did not complete, and who enrolled for 90+ days but did not complete. Multivariate logistic regression was used to model group differences in the odds of being reported to CPS in the 1 to 3 years following parental criminal conviction or, alternatively, being referred to a DTC program. RESULTS: Children of parents convicted of a substance-related offense were at greater risk of CPS involvement than children whose parents were not convicted of any charge, but DTC participation did not mitigate this risk. Conclusion/Importance: The role of specialty courts as a strategy for reducing children's risk of maltreatment should be further explored.





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Gifford, Elizabeth J, Lindsey M Eldred, Frank A Sloan and Kelly E Evans (2016). Parental Criminal Justice Involvement and Children's Involvement With Child Protective Services: Do Adult Drug Treatment Courts Prevent Child Maltreatment?. Subst Use Misuse, 51(2). pp. 179–192. 10.3109/10826084.2015.1089906 Retrieved from

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Elizabeth Joanne Gifford

Research Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy

Beth Gifford is a research professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, a core faculty member of the Center for Child and Family Policy and the Margolis Center for Health Policy. She leads a multidisciplinary research team that examines the health and social services engagement of children and families. Motivating her research is the need to understand how social policies and practices can better support children and families. Her work spans many public institutions including education, social services, criminal justice, and health care systems. She is the Director of the Health Policy Certificate Program and the Health Policy and Innovation Theme Leader for Bass Connections.


Frank A. Sloan

J. Alexander McMahon Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Health Policy and Management

Professor Sloan is interested in studying the subjects of health policy and the economics of aging, hospitals, health, pharmaceuticals, and substance abuse. He has received funding from numerous research grants that he earned for studies of which he was the principal investigator. His most recent grants were awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Center for Disease Control, the Pew Charitable Trust, and the National Institute on Aging. Titles of his projects include, “Why Mature Smokers Do Not Quit,” “Legal and Economic Vulnerabilities of the Master Settlement Agreement,” “Determinants and Cost of Alcohol Abuse Among the Elderly and Near-elderly,” and “Reinsurance Markets and Public Policy.” He received the Investigator Award for his work on the project, “Reoccurring Crises in Medical Malpractice.” Some of his earlier works include the studies entitled, “Policies to Attract Nurses to Underserved Areas,” “The Impact of National Economic Conditions on the Health Care of the Poor-Access,” and “Analysis of Physician Price and Output Decisions.” Professor Sloan’s latest research continues to investigate the trends and repercussions of medical malpractice, physician behavior, and hospital behavior.

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