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Peer mentoring services, opportunities, and outcomes for child welfare families with substance use disorders

Ruth A. Huebner, Martin T. Hall, Erin Smead, Tina Willauer and Lynn Posze

Children and Youth Services Review, 2018, vol. 84, issue C, 239-246

Abstract: Peer recovery support services (PRSS) in child welfare are being provided by peer mentors in sustained recovery from substance use disorders (SUD) to parents with acute SUD. Previous retrospective interviews demonstrate that peer mentors engage parents in family-centered systems of care through relationships and empowerment. However, the specific profile of services provided is unknown. Personnel challenges and opportunities for persons in recovery serving as peer mentors are described in the literature without understanding the frequency of both. As enthusiasm for hiring peer mentors grows, it is important to understand the specific services provided, the risks and opportunities associated with hiring individuals in recovery, and the impact of mentor services on outcomes. This knowledge can assist in developing training, implementation guides, policies, job expectations, and program evaluation strategies. This is a prospective study of 28 family mentors providing PRSS services to 783 families with child maltreatment and parental SUD over 8years in a family-centered integrated program with SUD treatment providers. We describe mentor services overall, during the early engagement period, in rural and urban settings, and test the association between services and child/parent unification status at case closure; we identify the proportion of peer mentors that experienced employment challenges and career advancement opportunities. Results demonstrate the complexity of service provision overall and in differing contexts. Face to face visits with children were associated with greater likelihood of parent/child unification at case closure and 64.3% of peer mentors experienced career advancement opportunities. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Date: 2018
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