Published In

Child Welfare

Document Type


Publication Date



Social service -- Research -- Methodology, Social work with families, Parents -- Substance abuse -- United States


Meeting the needs of families involved with the child welfare system because of a substance abuse issue remains a challenge for child welfare practitioners. In order to improve services to these families, there has been an increasing focus on improving collaboration between child welfare, treatment providers, and the court systems. This paper presents the results from qualitative interviews with 104 representatives of these three systems that explore how the collaborative process works to benefit families, as well as the barriers and supports for building successful collaborations. Results indicate that collaboration has at least three major functions: building shared value systems, improving communication, and providing a "team" of support. Each of these leads to different kinds of benefits for families as well as providers and has different implications for building successful collaborative interventions. Despite these putative benefits, providers within each system, however, continue to struggle to build effective collaborations, and they face such issues as deeply ingrained mistrust and continued lack of understanding of other systems' values, goals, and perspectives. Challenges that remain for successful collaborations are discussed.


This is the publisher's final PDF. Copyright (2008) Child Welfare League of America. This article originally appeared in Child Welfare, January 2008.

Persistent Identifier