The purpose of this article was to show difficulties that arise when there are two different agencies with two different goals which are working together with a common client. In this case, the two agencies are the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) funded programs, and the New York City Child Welfare Administration (CWA). Each of these agencies has a different agenda: CSAP is looking to prevent and/or treat alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use in pregnant or women of childbearing age (Linares, 1998, p.254), and the CWA’s ultimate goal is to expediently find a permanent home for the child (p. 256).
The CSAP staffers have complained that the CWA workers have a poor understanding of the nature of addiction (p. 255). For the ATOD mothers, maintaining custody of their children is an important part of the recovery process, as it is often one of the few ways an ATOD dependent mother can establish a link to mainstream society (p. 254). However, as noted by the author (p. 255) that in order for children of ATOD dependent mothers to be properly discharged and integrated back with their biological mothers, long term recovery treatment coordination, and other ancillary services are necessary (group therapy, for example) in order to reduce the probability that the child will return to foster care. The long term nature of the treatment of addiction is obviously in direct conflict with the CWA’s goals, which look to find the children a permanent home as quickly as possible (p. 256).
According to the author, CSAP staff was also critical of the bureaucratic nature of the CWA (p. 254). The CWA is a centralized administrative entity which oversees foster care services to over 70 child welfare agencies (p. 256). The actual caseworkers for the CWA are usually isolated from the work the agency workers, and are also overburdened with paperwork (p. 256). The detached nature of the CWA further complicates treatment plans because the CWA case workers are limited in their ability to alter the discharge plans for children of ATOD using mothers or advocate on their behalf (p. 256).
The author then cites a program created in New York City called The Infant Nursery Caregiver Education, Parent Training Project (INCEPT) (p. 257). The goal of this project was to combat the problems (gaps in communication and advocacy, fragmented and limited case management and follow up, poor understanding of addictive processes, and a generally unfriendly foster care environment) experienced by ATOD dependent mothers in the child welfare system (p. 257). The INCEPT program offered much better case management than before, lessening the caseworkers loads to 10 cases per 1 case worker (p. 258),...