PARTNERS FOR CREATIVE COLLABORATIONDean C. Wolf, LCSW-CLicensed Social Worker
101 W. Main Street 304 York StreetWestminster, Md. 21157 Gettysburg, Pa. 17325(410) 876-3030 (410) 596-4917
GUIDELINES & CONSIDERATIONS FOR BUILDING A SOLUTION FOCUSEDSUBSTANCE ABUSE PLANNING, MANAGEMENT & INTERVENTIONINTIATIVE IN CHILD
WELFARE & JUVENILE JUSTICE
In the modern day substance abuse has become an increasing focus of concern in childwelfare. Many teens whether living with their biological families, in kinship familysystems or foster care are coming to the attention of Departments of Social Services andJuvenile Services because of symptoms of substance abuse. These youth continue touse/abuse substances despite the best efforts of parents, caseworkers, juvenile probationofficers, courts and treatment professionals to stop them. The issues that define andexplain substance abuse in youth are well known and often discussed includingsociological, psychological, familial, peer, genetic predisposition and more.It appears what is often missing are what solutions can be developed in an effectivemanner when a helper is faced with a substance abusing or addicted youth. Mostintervention in community outpatient clinics and residential rehabilitation centers stressindividual and group therapy as the treatment of choice along with self-help groups suchas AA(Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous). In most cases familyinvolvement is minimized in outpatient/inpatient settings except for parent/childsubstance abuse education modalities. Many serious youthful substance abusers whodemonstrate addictive symptoms are known to go through several residential placementsand outpatient treatment efforts without much effect or success. This is sometimes calledthe “revolving door.” The following guidelines and considerations are an effort toimprove outcomes and find meaningful solutions to the problems of substanceabuse/addiction for those youth and their families involved in the child welfare system.All efforts should be made to avoid residential rehabilitation placements, especially longterm out of home placements.
Build a collaborative team of natural and professional support around thesubstance abusing youth that includes the agency caseworker and thoseindividuals who love and care for the child/family, know the child/family welland are viewed by the child/family as likely “go to” people for help. These ofteninclude parents, extended family, neighbors/friends, pastors/ministers, teachers,coaches, peers and concerned community members, including agency helpers.This is sometimes called a wraparound team
Utilize the collaborative team in evaluative, planning, management andintervention roles. With the help of a facilitator the team comes up with howinvolved the youth is with substances and begins to plan for how to manage andintervene to modify and/or stop the substance abuse. A plan of intervention withthe consensus recommendations of the collaborative team can be presented to thecourt for review.