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Children’s Justice Initiative Alcohol and Other Drug Project. Parent Partner Consultant Report on Focus Groups. Mission.

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children s justice initiative alcohol and other drug project

Children’s Justice Initiative Alcohol and Other Drug Project

Parent Partner Consultant Report on Focus Groups


To ensure that in a fair and timely manner, abused and neglected children involved in the Juvenile protection court system have safe, stable, permanent families by improving parental and family recovery from alcohol and other drug problems

focus group partners and locations
Mock Group

Made up of past consumers or providers of services (Child welfare, Juvenile Court, Alcohol and Other Drugs

Pilot Counties




Native American communities

Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MIWRC)

Leech Lake Women Services


Father’s Group

African American Men’s Project (AAMP)

Mother’s Group

RS Eden (women’s residential Tx program, Mpls based)

Beholding and Becoming Program (women’s empowerment, St. Paul based)

9 groups

Approximately 70 parents

Focus Group Partners and Locations
partner supports
Partner Supports
  • Access to parents/families that had past or current involvement with child protection, juvenile courts and alcohol and other drug systems
  • Provided a physical location for groups and other logistical needs.
  • Provided snacks or light meals
  • Some provided transportation and child care
parent invitations and questions
Parent Invitations and questions
  • CJI-AOD Core Team constructed and approved invitation letters to parents
  • CJI-AOD Core Team constructed and approved 10 questions related to:
    • Client/Family engagement
    • Father’s involvement
    • Exit/Transition strategies for families
    • Services to Children
    • Cross System Communication
  • CJI-AOD Core Team approved two additional questions related to:
    • Tribal representation of ICWA families
parent participation incentives
Parent participation incentives
  • Incentives
    • An opportunity to lend their voices and become involved in a worthy initiative for families
    • To share their individual experiences and to receive and offer hope
    • Parents were given a $20 gift certificate for their participation in the groups
    • Each host site served a light lunch/dinner
focus group construction
Focus Group Construction
  • Introduction to CJI-AOD Project and it’s objectives
  • An introduction to the “Five Clocks”
  • Viewed a 4 minute video of the Dan Jansen Story
statement of shared values and guiding principles
Statement of Shared Values and Guiding Principles
  • Keeping Children Safe: Most parents want to keep their children safe, but sometimes circumstances or conditions interfere with their ability to do so
  • Active Involvement: Parents are actively involved in decision-making and need to have a voice throughout the process as well as be supported and encouraged to use their voice
  • Support: The parent-child relationship will be supported throughout case plan and monitoring within each system
question 1
Question #1

During your involvement with the child protection system, do you agree your use of alcohol and other drugs affected your family and impaired your ability to parent your children? If yes, how so?

“At one time I would have done anything for my kids, at the end of my addictions I would have done anything for drugs.”

I had to prostitute to maintain my addiction. Although I know it took years for my addiction to progress to the point of losing my family; for me it seemed that things changed in 3.2 seconds.

I allowed drinking parties that were a potential for violent behavior and my children could have gotten hurt.
question 2
Question #2

What services and support, if any were provided by the child welfare system that worked well for you in dealing with your recovery?


Connections to treatment programs. Chemical Health wouldn’t pay for another treatment, so it was written into my case plan. “I had already been in treatment 25 times and kept getting kicked out.”

Child protection services gave info for assessment and worked with me to get things done. I had access to treatment when it was available.
My child welfare worker was very helpful. She offered constant support and encouragement to reunification.
question 3
Question #3

What would have been helpful to you in your recovery that was not provided by the child protection system?

question 31
Enforce the visitation with foster families. I did not have a vehicle, and I was the one responsible for the visits when they were in different parts of the state.

Spirituality. Information about churches/faith-based treatment programs

Information about programs that embrace the whole family. The children and parent together.

If child welfare workers would stop provoking bad performance from clients. They make statements like, “What is wrong with you don’t you want to do better?”

Question #3
questions 4 5 6 7 8
Questions #4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Asked for responses directly related to:

  • Client/Family Engagement
  • Services to Children
  • Father’s Involvement
  • Cross Systems Communications
  • Exit/Transition Strategies For Families
4 engagement
#4 Engagement

Engagement in What?

  • Do you mean engagement in cooperating with child protection?
  • Do you mean engagement in the recovery process?
  • Engage the family and not the personal agenda of the worker

“When parents don’t see eye to eye on issues, the social worker might tend to usurp authority at the expense and relationship of the family and hinder the recovery process and timely reunification.”

  • Attention should be given to family recovery and not just dirty urine analysis. (UA's)
5 services to children
#5 Services to Children
  • Involve children with treatment goals right away.
  • Don’t forget that parents still need to have a part in parenting their children.
  • Foster parents or child welfare should be required to bring child(ren) when parent is in treatment and involved in family group sessions.
6 suggestions to improve recovery in transitioning to another service
#6 Suggestions to improve recovery in transitioning to another service
  • Stop the revolving door!

“When parents don’t make outlined goals, the process starts all over again and it may not be necessary to start all over again, but add some extra supports to help regain focus.”

  • Remember that things are easier said than done for parents. “Requirements are difficult.”
  • Provide aftercare connections and financial resources for rent, phone and drivers license. “Life necessities that don’t seem important but help you get back on your feet.”
7 improve on involving fathers
#7 Improve on involving fathers
  • Through community involvement and outreach to fathers through organizations like MADD Dads, Father’s Resource Center, etc…
  • Create and provide the same resources to fathers that you do for moms: Job training, housing, therapy, transportation, etc...
  • Fathers are not given support! Fathers don’t feel like they have a voice, place or responsibility to the child when it comes to the courts and child welfare.
8 improve on information sharing between 3 systems
#8 Improve on information sharing between 3 systems
  • The three systems should do focus groups together
  • Mandate education for courts/judges on addiction and recovery---Child welfare needs to understand better the process of addiction and recovery.
  • All interested parties meet with parent at once. There are so many agencies and requirements to deal with that there is not enough time for parent to concentrate on recovery and keeping family safe. There are just too many appointments.
question 9
Question #9

A key goal of the Children’s Justice Initiative is to facilitate more parent involvement in the project. What things can be done to make it easier for parents to participate?

9 parent involvement
#9 Parent involvement
  • Provide incentives such as: Child Care, Gift Certificates, Transportation, Meals
  • Schedule events/workshops at times that give working parents the ability to participate
  • Provide parents training about system protocols
  • Go to communities instead of asking communities to come to you
questions 11
Questions #11

During your involvement with the child protection/courts/alcohol and other drugs systems, were you assigned a tribal representative? If so, how were they helpful in assisting you?

question 11
Question #11
  • Yes, it was helpful . I pretty much know all of the people at the Indian Center and they know me. Knowing people all these years helped
  • Representative was helpful in getting case closed
  • You’re not assigned one unless you ask
question 12
Question #12

What recommendations do you have that would improve the assistance and help provided by tribal representatives for families involved in the child protection/courts/alcohol and other drug systems?

question 121
Question #12
  • Display more professionalism on the job
  • if tribes had their own social service, courts and child protection system
  • More education and training for tribal representatives
  • Confidentiality is an issue in smaller communities
question 10
Question #10

Based on your experiences with the child protection, courts and alcohol and other drug systems, what would you like those who work in these 3 systems to know about the process of recovery?

question 101
Question #10
  • Everybody needs to understand recovery is a process

“Courts and child welfare don’t seem to understand at times that it is a process when asking you to do something”

  • Everyone is different. Individualize recovery plans based on each parent/family needs.
  • Educate yourselves on recovery

“Just because you made bad choices in the past doesn’t mean you’re a bad person today.”

other suggestions and observations from parents
Other suggestions and observations from parents
  • Parents suggested that it would be helpful to them in their recovery and meeting requirements child welfare if they had access to a network of other parents that had been successful in navigating through the systems
  • Parents believe that they could do better at meeting requirements and obtaining reunification if they were better educated on the child welfare system and juvenile court proceedings
  • Parent voiced other concerns such as domestic abuse, prostitution, low self-esteem, mental illness, sexual abuse and economic issues that are not necessarily being addressed along with child welfare interventions that could assist them in being successful
  • Parents stated that more attention needed to be given as it relates to safety of children in the foster home settings.
thoughts to ponder
Thoughts to ponder
  • What do we do with this information as it relates to moving forward with this initiative?
  • Do we really believe that parents want to overcome their issues with alcohol and other drugs? If so, how do we support them?
  • If it were your family having any of these concerns presented, what kind of interaction and supports would you appreciate?