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Collaboration for Iowa Families

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $509,112)

OJJDP is seeking to infuse effective family drug court practices established at the local level and institutionalize them in the larger state-level child welfare, substance abuse treatment, and court systems. The purpose of this state systems reform effort is to expand the scale of family drug courts (i.e., penetration rate of the larger child welfare and substance abuse treatment systems) and scope (i.e., range of comprehensive services for families) to serve all families in the child welfare system affected by parental substance use disorders more effectively and improve child, parent, and family outcomes.

The State of Iowa is uniquely poised to move family drug treatment courts and its essential components statewide. The Supreme Court has endorsed the planning process and the legislature has asked the court to lead the effort. This grant will provide the time and technical assistance to develop a collaborative approach for the court and its partners to spread the family treatment court model in all appropriate courts and to bring to scale the most effective concepts of treating families to all child welfare courts. This grant will also assist the Court, Iowa Department of Human Services, Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy to implement system-wide reform of working together more collaboratively to better serve children and their parents affected by substance use issues and substance use disorders. Under supervision of the Iowa Children's Justice State Council (ICJ), an ICJ Family Treatment Court Task Force will develop an implementation plan that will result in statewide system reform. Led by a seasoned partnership of state level leaders of State Court Administration, Iowa Department of Human Services, Iowa Department of Public Health and Office of Drug Control Policy, the task force of child welfare partners will address three objectives. The objectives are: (1) establish a funding and sustainability plan to support current family treatment courts and provide for expansion statewide for further family treatment courts; (2) identify and institutionalize key elements of family treatment court practices leading to statewide system reform; and (3) address the system deficit of assessing and preventing prenatal and perinatal substance exposure in children.


OJJDP's Juvenile Justice System Improvement Grants program was established to provide grants and cooperative agreements to organizations that provide programs and services critical to the mission of OJJDP, and organizations that OJJDP has selected for funds in prior years. This program will be authorized by an Act appropriating funds for the Department of Justice.

The primary goals of the Statewide System Reform Project in Iowa will be to continue to develop a plan for expansion of family treatment courts where resources and caseloads can support its functions, to infuse key family treatment court elements into the regular Child In Need of Assistance court process, and to address the needs of families in the child welfare system due to parental substance abuse. A multi-disciplinary task force on Family Treatment Courts was formed to address expansion efforts and replicating the successful elements for Child In Need of Assistance cases when a county cannot feasibly offer a Family Treatment Court. The task force has established several work groups in order to develop a plan which includes recommendations for existing and future family treatment courts. The additional funding will support the development of the continuous quality improvement tools which are essential to continuing to offer an effective treatment and court process.

To support broader statewide and community involvement, Iowa Children’s Justice has also focused on increasing awareness of and impact of parental substance use on prenatal and perinatal children. The Leadership Institute also is addressing ways to ameliorate the effects of this exposure through identification of risk, earliest intervention, and the use of research-proven treatment strategies. Six work groups have been formed to survey current practices for screening and assessments. An important component of our work has been gathering data and evaluating services to see what is producing positive results and should be sustained and replicated. Gathering data and measuring outcomes has been used to inform on the implementation of family treatment courts on a local level as well as document statewide review of all family treatment courts. Additional funding and the additional year for planning and implementation will support us to develop an automated process that would provide the infrastructure for an ongoing and continuous feedback loop on program implementation and outcomes.


Date Created: September 29, 2014