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Module 6 – Understanding the Needs of Children of Parents with Substance Use or Co-Occurring Disorders

Description and Objectives

The goal of Training Module 6 is to provide child welfare workers with an understanding of ways in which children can be affected by their parents’ substance use and/or co-occurring disorders—from prenatal exposure to the postnatal environment. This module discusses the effects of parental substance use on family dynamics and the care of children. The module provides information on resources to meet the needs of both the parents and children.

After completing this training, child welfare workers will:

  • Identify the effects of parental substance use and co-occurring disorders on child development during the prenatal and postnatal period, childhood, and adolescence.
  • Recognize the effects of parental substance use or co-occurring disorders on family dynamics and the care of children.
  • Discuss the unique needs of children of parents with substance use or co-occurring disorders, including the child’s own substance use or co-occurring disorders.
  • Explain treatment strategies, systems of care, and support services available to children.

Training Tips

  • Partner with a local child serving agency to co-facilitate the training.
  • Use the *** bolded discussion questions integrated in the module talking points to enrich the training and further engage participants.
  • Share or incorporate agency policy and procedures.
  • Highlight child welfare programs in your jurisdiction that have expertise in serving families affected by substance use disorders or that provide family-centered treatment.
  • Contact the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare for more information about using the Collaborative Values Inventory, a self-administered questionnaire that provides jurisdictions with an anonymous way of assessing the extent to which group members share ideas about the values that underlie their collaborative efforts, in your community.


  • Computer and projector
  • Speakers
  • Internet access
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Facilitator's Guide
  • Flip chart paper or white board (for use as a visual aid during discussion)

Find Help with a Personal Situation

Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment Locator

To find treatment facilities confidentially, 24/7, please call 1-800-662-4357 (HELP).

To locate general treatment services, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Treatment Locator online or call 1-800-662-4357 (HELP). This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. It is a free, confidential, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a year information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members needing treatment for a mental and/or substance use disorder.

National Child Abuse Hotline

If you suspect a child has been harmed by abuse or neglect, please call 1-800-422-4453.

If you suspect that a child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed by abuse or neglect, call the National Child Abuse Hotline at Call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453. Serving the United States and Canada, the hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who—through interpreters—provide assistance in over 170 languages. All calls, texts, and chats are confidential. If you believe a child is in immediate danger of harm, call 911 first.

National Suicide Prevention Line

For free and confidential support for people in distress, 24/7, please call or text 988, chat, or call 1-800-273-8255.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis, help is available and there are options to receive compassionate care. You can call or text 988 or chat You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Both are confidential and available 24/7 to everyone in the United States and will connect you to a trained counselor at a suicide crisis center nearest you.

Contact Us

The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare offers free technical assistance to a variety of systems on making policy and practice changes to improve outcomes for families affected by substance use disorders and involvement with child welfare services. To learn more about technical assistance services or if you have a question please email NCSACW at or call toll-free at 1–866–493–2758.

National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare