Parental Criminal Justice Involvement and Children's Involvement With Child Protective Services: Do Adult Drug Treatment Courts Prevent Child Maltreatment?

Journal Article (Journal Article)


In light of evidence showing reduced criminal recidivism and cost savings, adult drug treatment courts have grown in popularity. However, the potential spillover benefits to family members are understudied.


To examine: (1) the overlap between parents who were convicted of a substance-related offense and their children's involvement with child protective services (CPS); and (2) whether parental participation in an adult drug treatment court program reduces children's risk for CPS involvement.


Administrative data from North Carolina courts, birth records, and social services were linked at the child level. First, children of parents convicted of a substance-related offense were matched to (a) children of parents convicted of a nonsubstance-related offense and (b) those not convicted of any offense. Second, we compared children of parents who completed a DTC program with children of parents who were referred but did not enroll, who enrolled for <90 days but did not complete, and who enrolled for 90+ days but did not complete. Multivariate logistic regression was used to model group differences in the odds of being reported to CPS in the 1 to 3 years following parental criminal conviction or, alternatively, being referred to a DTC program.


Children of parents convicted of a substance-related offense were at greater risk of CPS involvement than children whose parents were not convicted of any charge, but DTC participation did not mitigate this risk. Conclusion/Importance: The role of specialty courts as a strategy for reducing children's risk of maltreatment should be further explored.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gifford, EJ; Eldred, LM; Sloan, FA; Evans, KE

Published Date

  • January 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 51 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 179 - 192

PubMed ID

  • 26789656

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5014369

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1532-2491

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1082-6084

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3109/10826084.2015.1089906


  • eng