Substance Abuse

USC Professor to Study Substance Abuse in Child Welfare

An assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work will have an opportunity to explore the causes and consequences of substance abuse among those in the child welfare system.

Backed by a three-year $700,000 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dorian Traube will review data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being to determine the rates of substance use and abuse among those in the child welfare system. She will also explore factors that make some children more vulnerable to drug abuse, including family history of substance-related problems, race and ethnicity, type of maltreatment and whether they were placed in foster care or otherwise removed from their home. Furthermore, she will examine how substance use issues develop over the course of child development, the Health Canal reports.

“We think about 80 percent of children who are engaged by the child welfare system have some sort of family substance abuse in their profile,” Traube said. “They’ve been abused because their parent was intoxicated or they were neglected because their parent was out trying to score and left them home alone.”

Traube suspects that having parents with substance abuse problems is a major indicator of whether children in the system will struggle with similar issues. She hopes that the research will influence changes in the system of care in behavioral health services.

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