U.S Department of Health and Human Services U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Federal and State Policy Tools and Legislation

Developing new policies to support improved practice requires all three systems to work in a collaborative method, which places new responsibilities upon each system’s professionals. In a collaborative setting, judges, attorneys, child welfare professionals, treatment providers and additional stakeholders must move beyond their traditional roles, begin to look at the system as a whole, and focus on the needs of children and families in a holistic way. By rising above daily practice issues and making the best interests of abused and neglected children the primary level of focus, all three partners can plan for effective systemic change. This change can include development of treatment and support service options that best meet the needs of dependent children and their families within their communities.

This policy focus can guide planning for change in court and agency practice which is centered on children and families taking into consideration the importance of a child’s needs, including a child’s sense of time, developmental needs, sense of well-being, and other critical developmental issues. A holistic approach to assessing and revising policy can ensure that appropriate and immediately accessible substance abuse services will be available to parents and those mental health needs of children and parents will be met.

State Policy Tools

Interagency Agreements & Memoranda of Understanding

Shared Principles Statements

Local Site Implementation

Executive Orders

Federal and State Legislation

Professionals who work with families with substance use disorder should develop a good understanding of Federal legislation and the respective State laws that have been implemented to carry out the Federal legislation.

Federal Legislation

State Legislation and Regulation

  • Michigan: Binsfield Legislation - Legislation Establishing Priority for Admission (PDF 17 KB)
  • 2514 Strategic Plan Legislation
    California legislation from 2003 would have created a strategic planning process between child welfare and treatment agencies at the state level.
  • Substance Abuse Legislation Database
    National Conference of State Legislatures
    A regularly updated database tracking State legislative action on substance abuse, including bill numbers, sponsors, bill summaries and content, and links to bills enacted by the legislatures.
  • An Overview of the Child and Family Services Reviews
    Webinar presented by the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare and the National Association of State Alcohol/Drug Abuse Directors. The webinar was developed to inform State Substance Abuse Directors about the CFSR process and suggest ways in which State Substance Abuse Directors can become involved in the CFSR process through collaboration with Child Welfare Administrators in their state.
  • Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. (Families in Recovery Succeeding Together)
    Established by the Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 8-881 (Senate Bill 1280, passed in 2000) and administered jointly by the Arizona Departments of Economic Security and Health Services. The statute established a statewide program for substance abusing families entering the child welfare system as well as families receiving cash aid through TANF. The program is a community-based approach that seeks to help families overcome substance abuse issues to reach self-sufficiency, family reunification, and child permanency.
  • Oregon Senate Bill 964: Strengthening, Preserving and Reunifying Families SB 964 encourages the Department of Human Services and county partners to form collaborative partnerships to design and implement an array of services for child welfare families affected by substance use. Services include assessment of overall family needs; cross-systems/joint response to allegations of abuse or neglect; a range of family-centered treatment and services; housing; family strengthening programs; and maintenance of child-parent interaction in situations involving out of home care.