Effects of a Multidisciplinary Family Treatment Drug Court on Child and Family Outcomes: Results of a Quasi-Experimental Study

Eric J. Bruns, Michael D. Pullmann, Ericka S. Weathers, Mark L. Wirschem, Jill K. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


Family treatment drug courts (FTDCs) are an increasingly common approach for serving families involved in child welfare due to parental substance abuse; however, the evidence base for FTDCs remains emergent. This quasi-experimental study replicates previous research on FTDCs by comparing parental substance abuse treatment and child welfare outcomes for 76 FTDC participants to outcomes for 76 parents in the same system who did not participate in the FTDC, using propensity score matching. Data were obtained from the Superior court, FTDC, child welfare, and public substance use treatment service administrative databases. The follow-up window for participants ranged from 1 to 3 years. Results showed FTDC parents had significantly more review and motion hearings, were significantly more likely to enter treatment, entered treatment faster, received more treatment, and were more likely to successfully complete treatment. FTDC children spent significantly less time placed out of home, ended child welfare system involvement sooner, were more likely to be permanently placed and discharged from child welfare, and were more likely to return to parental care. Results demonstrate that FTDCs promote positive treatment and child welfare outcomes without deepening participants' involvement in justice systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-230
Number of pages13
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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