SOP and SUDs Series – Module 2: Safety Planning

Full Day

In Module 2 of the Safety Organized Practice and Substance Use Disorders series, participants will:

  • Develop assessment skills by using solution focused strategies to interview for safety and danger
  • Learn how to use mapping tools to determine substance use effects on caregiver functioning
  • Understand how to apply an intersecting lens when mental illness and substance abuse are intertwined with domestic violence
  • Identify caregiver parenting behavior that increases child safety
  • Practice using Circles of Safety and Support to build safety networks and create cultural safety plans

About the Series

This three-day Substance Abuse Awareness and Child Protection training course specifically addresses the role of substance use disorders (SUDs) in creating familial conflict and endangering child welfare. According to the National Center on Substance Use and Child Welfare, “nearly 9 million children live with at least one parent who has a SUD,” and while “the vast majority of these families are not referred to child welfare agencies for maltreatment…parental use of substances, including alcohol, was a contributing reason for removal in more than one-third (35.3 percent) of out-of-home care cases” (Children’s Bureau). Using substances can negatively impact caregivers’ ability to safely parent the children in their care and may increase the risk of child maltreatment. The effects of emotional, psychological and physical maltreatment of children demand that child welfare workers (CWWs) understand and appreciate the magnitude and scope of the impact of substance on families. Parents using substances may have an increased difficulty managing their own emotions and prioritizing the well-being of their children. By using solution-focused questions and tools, a CWW is able to identify the effects of a parent’s substance use on their ability to keep their children safe.

This three-module series teaches safety-organized concepts to enhance proficiency in a CWW’s ability to engage caregivers whose use or abuse of substances may endanger the children in their care. CWWs collaborate with other community health and wellness systems in helping to diagnose, treat, heal and support those who struggle with substances. As part of this communal process of healing, CWWs must come to understand the underlying trauma that creates substance abuse and perpetuates its hold on a family. Substance use disorders often stem from unresolved childhood trauma, and those with SUDs often face guilt, further trauma, and relapse during the healing process. This training highlights the underlying causes of substance use, the triggers and behaviors that contribute to ongoing substance use, and the stages associated with substance use and recovery. CWWs will develop skills to approach parents with substance use compassionately and respectfully toward the goal of increased family engagement, connection, and safety.

Child welfare workers play a critical role in enabling families to overcome barriers that result from substance abuse and in encouraging recovery through collaboration with treatment providers that offer either harm reduction or abstinence treatment methods. Recovery is a life-long process. Parents with substance abuse can—through perseverance and sound treatment—build safe, functional and thriving family systems. This training emphasizes CWW awareness of implicit bias and helps CWWs utilize key components of the Core Practice Model to create an empathic and collaborative relationship that will bolster parental self-esteem, trust, and prioritize child safety and familial healing over parental shame.

Natural and formal supports can work with caregivers to build and maintain safe parenting behaviors during a caregiver’s recovery process. This training explores the possible indicators that signal a caregiver’s ability and willingness to plan for recovery and suggests collaborative action steps for case planning that ensure immediate child safety. CWWs, along with caregivers, must delineate necessary behavior changes that promote permanency, safety, and a thriving family unit. To build these skills for CWWs, this training uses the Circles of Safety and Support tool to demonstrate a CWW’s influence in highlighting caregiver strengths and building caregiver resilience in the face of substance abuse.

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