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University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit

  • Project Title: The Parent-Child Assistance Program – Prevention & Intervention with High-Risk Mothers and Their Children
  • Program Representative Interviewed: Stacy Dimmich
  • Location: Washington State
  • Program Overview: PCAP is an evidence-informed intervention model for mothers with substance use disorder. The goals of the program are to build healthy families and prevent future alcohol- or drug-exposed births by helping mothers achieve and maintain recovery. The program began in Washington State in 1991 and has been supported by a mix of public and private funding.

    PCAP trains and closely supervises case managers, who conduct home visits twice a month and stay in regular contact with clients for three years. Unlike traditional home visiting, a PCAP home visit might consist of a case manager helping the mother with her food budget and then going grocery shopping together, for example, or taking a walk around the park with the baby in the stroller, and having mother practice valuable parenting skills in the process. Case managers also serve as coaches and role models to mothers and families, and connect them with community services.

    PCAP results show that at the end of the three-year program, 92% of mothers were in the process of completing or had completed treatment programs, 76% were abstinent from substance use for six months or more during the course of the program, 68% were regularly using family planning, and 57% had attended or completed educational classes or work training. In addition, 80% of children were living together with their families.

    PCAP has also been demonstrated to be a cost-effective program for reducing future alcohol- or drug-exposed births. This has been achieved through abstinence from substance use and effective family planning among mothers, decreased welfare costs through education or work training, and decreased foster care costs through improved home stability.

Models represented by this program: