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BMC Public Health








Background: Families affected by substance misuse are at increased risk for child maltreatment and child welfare system involvement. The Enhancing Permanency in Children and Families (EPIC) program uses four evidence-based and informed multi-system practices to promote safety and permanency outcomes for children involved with the child welfare system due to parental substance misuse: 1) Peer Recovery Support (PRS), 2) Family Treatment Drug Court (FTDC), 3) Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) and 4) Nurturing Parent Program (NPP) relational skill-building. The purpose of the current study was to identify barriers, facilitators, and lessons learned in the implementation of and client engagement with the main components of EPIC. Methods: Seventeen key EPIC personnel participated in the study. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted. Qualitative analysis involved the thematic coding of the interviews, and program facilitators and barriers were revealed. Results: PRS were identified as a primary strength of the EPIC program, providing experiential connection to participating families and a valuable source of information. High turnover and matching PRS to families were barriers to PRS implementation. FTDC contributed to client success as judges developed interpersonal relationships with the clients that balanced support with accountability. Client attitudes toward court presented barriers to FTDC engagement. MOUD provided stabilization and was perceived by caseworkers as an engagement facilitator and a layer of client accountability; however, the lack of availability of MOUD service providers presented a barrier for some clients. Parental relational skill-building was not valued by clients and was perceived as conflicting with sobriety-focused activities. Conclusions: The EPIC program provides comprehensive, coordinated multi-system support and care to families affected by parental substance misuse. Continued efforts to improve recruitment and retention of PRS, reframing client perceptions of FTDC, and increasing access to MOUD may contribute to increased engagement in the program. Findings highlight the utility of tracking process outcomes in community-based interventions to promote participant engagement in programs set in complex systems. Trial registration: NCT04700696. Registered January 7, 2021-retrospectively registered.

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Child maltreatment and neglect, Child welfare; multi-system intervention, Family permanency, Parental substance use

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


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