Parental substance and opioid use disorders impact more than 8 million children in the U.S. and contribute to increasing rates of family instability and maternal mortality. Taking an intergenerational approach, PolicyLab researchers are working with community partners to implement interventions and evaluate programs intended to support and strengthen families in which there is a caregiver with substance use disorder.
One such partnership is with the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, a nonprofit child abuse prevention organization that developed and runs the Families in Recovery program—an innovative initiative aimed at engaging and supporting parents of children impacted by substance use disorder. The program, which includes seven strengths-based group sessions that dive into the experiences of parents in recovery, has overwhelmingly positive reviews, but doesn’t yet have an evidence base for how best to implement it in diverse contexts and settings. Collaborating with Families in Recovery administrators, facilitators, and participants, as well as a community advisory board of individuals with lived experience and knowledge on substance use disorder programming, PolicyLab experts are evaluating the program’s implementation at each site and informing quality improvement efforts to ensure the fidelity of the services as the program continues to expand.
Whether uncovering a problem while seeing patients and families or seeking to answer a question raised by community and clinical partners or local organizations, PolicyLab researchers are hard at work exploring practice- and policy-based topics through pilot grants and developing and evaluating evidence-based interventions to address issues impacting youth. These innovative efforts are an important step to building sustainable, replicable programs and policies that are responsive to community needs. Here, you’ll see just a few examples within our five research portfolios.
With the ability to resume in-person activities this year alongside virtual opportunities, our faculty and staff were eager to give back to our surrounding Philadelphia community. For the second year, we held a successful virtual holiday toy drive for Lutheran Settlement House, which serves children, adults and families in the city. PolicyLab team members provided more than $1,200 in donations, fulfilling gift wish lists for 23 children and teens and two caregivers. At PolicyLab Forum 2022, we held a donation drive for Jane Addams Place, which gives families a safe, welcoming, dignified place to live while they plan for their next steps, collecting nearly 50 care items, like sunglasses and sunblock, for children and families as they prepare for summer.
In addition, PolicyLab’s Project: ACE-IT team has been involved in the community throughout the pandemic providing COVID-19 testing and vaccines for schools and students. We were honored to receive a special piece of art from a student at Philadelphia’s HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy in recognition of this support.
Community partners are invaluable to the work that we do. Our results and findings are more meaningful when they stem from a collaborative, mutually beneficial process that centers the voices of community members and agencies. As a life-long learner, it is a privilege to approach these partnerships with humility and elevate the expertise of the groups and individuals we work alongside.