CASAWORKS - Welfare Reform & Substance Abusing Women | CASAColumbia

CASAWORKS for Families: A Promising Approach to Welfare Reform and Substance-Abusing Women

CASAWORKS for Families: A Promising Approach to Welfare Reform and Substance-Abusing Women

Published: May 2001

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Background

As welfare rolls declined nationally, those remaining on and returning to welfare were likely to be those with the most difficult problems—substance abuse and addiction, family violence, illiteracy, lacking job and parenting skills, poor health, inadequate housing and legal problems. Anticipating that families with these burdens would have the hardest time finding and retaining jobs, CASAColumbia designed CASAWORKS for Families, the first national demonstration program to provide the following services for women on welfare who have substance abuse problems, in one concentrated course:

  • Alcohol and other drug treatment
  • Literacy, job, parenting and social skills training
  • Family violence prevention
  • Health care

This groundbreaking approach aimed to enable these women to become self-sufficient, responsible parents and productive workers. CASAWORKS for Families was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the City of New York, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Methods

This report analyzed preliminary results of the CASAWORKS for Families program, which operated at sites in 10 cities in 9 states: California, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The goals tracked were sobriety and employment; the 2 goals that were tracked in subsequent analyses were family stability/safety and quality parenting.

The programs included a comprehensive package of 10 concurrent services for substance-affected women receiving public assistance:

  • Screening and assessment for employment, treatment and mental health
  • Individual plan for recovery and employment
  • Case manager to monitor progress in recovery and employment
  • Job seeking, job retention and job promotion activities, including orientation to work, on-the-job experiences, job clubs, a work portfolio and job development
  • Life skills development, including time, stress and money management, communication, appearance and grooming
  • Literacy and vocational services
  • Counseling sessions focusing on both recovery and employability
  • Support for childcare, housing, transportation, clothing, mentoring and job retention, as well as cash assistance
  • Women’s health services, including nutrition, family planning, HIV, dental and eye care, fitness and spirituality
  • Family skills development, including parenting, child welfare, family preservation, respite care, child psychology and child advocacy

Results

Preliminary national results showed that after 12 months, the proportion of enrolled women abstinent (as measured by no use in the past month) from alcohol increased by 60%, the proportion abstinent from cocaine increased by 34% and the proportion abstinent from marijuana increased by more than 20%. Program participants’ rates of employment more than doubled. 

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