Substance abuse among child welfare service recipients has proven to be a challenging obstacle to child safety, permanence and well-being. The use of family drug courts as a specialized intervention for working with substance affected families has risen dramatically in the past decade, and emanates from the notion of therapeutic jurisprudence. At the same time family drug courts have grown, the use of strengths based approaches to practice has also proliferated among child welfare practitioners. This work examines the intersection of family drug courts and strengths based practices, and encourages to reader to consider that while the court system would at first blush appear to belie the foundation of the strengths perspective, the two approaches are theoretically and practically quite compatible.

Key Take Away Points

  • Family Drug Courts are theoretically aligned with therapeutic jurisprudence, the notion that the court can be used to promote therapeutic outcomes;
  • The core components of a family drug court include an interdisciplinary team approach, high intensity service delivery, extensive community collaboration, and a focus on child and family well-being.
  • These core components overlap significantly with the theoretical underpinnings of the strengths perspective to practice, and align with many strengths based interventions.

Author Biography

Margaret Lloyd, MS is a paralegal, graduate research assistant and third year doctoral student at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. Margaret’s research and scholarship interests include the nexus of substance abuse, child well-being, and the legal system, with a specific focus on social work in problem-solving courts. Jody Brook, Ph.D. MSW/LCSW is an assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. Her research interests center on the role of substance abuse in child welfare. Her interests include substance abuse across the lifespan, child welfare, family drug courts, community based strategies for addressing substance abuse related issues, and mixed research methods. She currently serves as the federally funded evaluator for multiple large family drug court trials and trials involving the implementation of statewide substance abuse services for child welfare involved families, and teaches research methods at the University of Kansas.