The Prevention and Family Recovery (PFR) initiative, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Duke Endowment, seeks to advance the capacity of Family Drug Courts (FDCs) to provide more comprehensive family-centered care to children, parents and families affected by substance use disorders. PFR is focused on integrating and institutionalizing evidence-based parenting services and developmental and therapeutic services for children into the larger FDC systems of care to improve family well-being and prevent the recurrence of child abuse and neglect.  PFR is working with eight established FDCs across the country to strengthen their parenting and children’s services for vulnerable families. 

Children and Family Futures (CFF) is providing intense technical assistance (TA) and expert consultation to help the FDCs build their capacity to implement and sustain comprehensive family-centered care, foster collaboration with other prevention and early intervention initiatives and facilitate practice and systems improvements to better serve families.  The PFR Change Team that will support the grantees includes:

  • A dedicated senior-level Change Leader (assigned to each site) who is experienced in facilitating collaborative practice and systems change,
  • A National Advisory Council (NAC) comprised of nationally recognized experts in child welfare, family courts, tribal courts, child development, parenting and family functioning, family-centered substance use treatment, housing, veteran's needs, sustainability and systems change.  In addition to guiding the overall PFR initiative, the NAC will provide site-specific technical assistance as needed.
  • PFR evaluators skilled in outcomes and process evaluation and building local evaluation capacity.  

With more than 360 FDCs nationwide serving approximately 19,000 families, FDCs are a growing response to the practice and policy challenges of working with families affected by parental substance use disorders and child abuse and neglect.  FDCs seek to do what is in the best interest of the family by providing a safe and secure environment for the child while intensively intervening and treating a parent’s substance use and other co-occurring disorders.  Overseen by specially trained and dedicated judicial teams, FDCs are uniquely positioned to integrate preventive services across systems with the flexibility to administer an array of services responses to ensure family engagement in treatment and recovery supports.


PFR strategies represent the best of what is known to impact parent-child relationships within the prevention context, what can be institutionalized in the FDC environment and what leads to systemic change. The integration of parenting interventions and developmental and therapeutic services to children will require FDC systems and their partnering agencies to behave differently toward parents and their children. Such change requires new norms among social workers, substance use treatment providers, court staff and the community that place greater emphasis on the importance of positive parenting and child well-being.  Policies and practices that institutionalize and sustain these changes lead to improved outcomes for the child, parent-child relationship and family.


PFR Evaluation Approach

The PFR evaluation seeks to demonstrate how a comprehensive and sustainable family-centered FDC approach—grounded in effective cross-systems collaboration—improves child, parent and family outcomes, particularly in the areas of child abuse and neglect, reunification, parental recovery and parent-child relationships. The scope of the initiative is multifaceted and complex, involving FDCs in varying community and sociopolitical contexts. As a result, PFR is using a realist evaluation approach that focuses on finding out what works, for whom, how, and in what circumstances.


PFR's evaluation activities are integrated throughout all stages of the initiative and support program development and improved implementation including lessons learned along the way. The evaluation investigates the relationships between context, project implementation and outcomes through mixed quantitative and qualitative data collection methods and by abstracting performance indicators from agency management information systems. Findings will enable FDCs to better understand why PFR interventions work and how they can be used to keep families together and prevent child abuse and neglect. 


  Project Goals

The four major goals of PFR are to:  

  1. Expand the array of effective prevention and early intervention strategies for families with substance use disorders who are involved with FDCs. PFR seeks to build on the existing capacity of FDCs to provide substance use treatment to parents by integrating evidence-based or evidence-informed parenting services and developmental and therapeutic services for children into established FDC programs (with a focus on children 0 to 8 years of age).
  1. Improve the capacity of FDC teams and their collaborative partners to effectively implement, strengthen and sustain comprehensive family-centered care as well as facilitate practice and larger systems improvements to better serve and support families. PFR seeks to transform the way FDCs and their partners focus on parenting services and services for children in making decisions about policies, programs and allocation of resources.  This approach strives to ultimately change the way FDCs serve, support and improve the outcomes of families affected by parental substance use disorders.  Achieving such large-scale practice and systems changes is not easy or quick.  The PFR Change Team (described above) will assist the FDCs throughout the process, establishing a close and supportive partnership and collaborative learning community with grantees to help ensure that a comprehensive, sustainable family-centered model becomes embedded in the culture of the FDC and its partnering agencies and organizations.
  1. Identify breakthrough strategies that support the effective implementation and sustainability of a comprehensive, integrated approach that improves family functioning and well-being and prevents child maltreatment.  The PFR realist evaluation will produce rich information about the circumstances and conditions that promote successful implementation and sustainability of best practices and improved child, parent and family outcomes.  This knowledge will support both interpretation and potential replication of moving prevention practices from demonstration projects to widespread adoption in FDC environments.
  1. Disseminate lessons learned to inform other child welfare and substance use treatment reform efforts, foster emerging leaders in the field of prevention, early intervention and treatment for families in FDCs and increase awareness of PFR’s work and accomplishments. The PFR project team, in collaboration with program leaders from the grantee sites, will assess information from the implementation environment, identify gaps and challenges and develop strategic approaches to addressing those challenges.  The PFR project team and grantees will strive to coordinate efforts with other related national and community-based initiatives and educate policymakers and practitioners about effective prevention, early intervention and treatment strategies for families with substance use disorders and other related risk factors.


Project Highlights

Congratulations New PFR Grantees!

Gila River Indian Community Family Drug Court – Scanton, AZ

Jefferson County Family Integrated Treatment CourtGolden, CO

Mecklenburg County Families In Recovery to Stay Together Program Charlotte, NC

Milwaukee County Family Drug Treatment CourtWauwatosa, WI