Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Special Topic – Considerations for Families in the Child Welfare System Affected by Opioids

Description and Objectives

The goal of this special topic training is to provide an overview of the effects of opioid use on families. This training offers information on the different opioids, their effects, and signs of use. An overview of overdose risk and prevention strategies is also included. Participants will learn referral and treatment options for parents affected by a substance use disorder. The training provides child welfare professionals with an understanding of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and the importance of a family-centered treatment approach.

After completing this training, child welfare workers will:

  • Discuss the context and prevalence of opioid use
  • Identify the effects of opioid use on children and families
  • Recognize the signs of opioid use in families involved with child welfare
  • Understand overdose risk and prevention
  • Understand the effects of parental opioid use on risk and safety of children
  • Identify evidence-based and practice-informed engagement and treatment strategies, including medication-assisted treatment, to address opioid use disorders
  • Discuss the principles of family-centered treatment and recovery

Training Tips

  • Partner with a local expert on substance use disorders to co-facilitate the training
  • Use the *** bolded discussion questions integrated in the module talking points to enrich the training
  • Share specific screening tools for substance use disorders used or vetted by the child welfare agency
  • Supplement content with information about how child welfare workers can locate treatment for parents in the community
  • Highlight local child welfare programs with expertise in serving families affected by substance use disorders or programs that provide family-centered treatment
  • Include content related to Drug Endangered Children used in the community
  • Include information about agency safety policies for staff
  • 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