Webinar Description: Substance use can have damaging effects on families and may reduce parents' ability to safely care for their children. After years of decline, foster care caseloads have been increasing from 2012 to 2016. This increase has concerned child welfare practitioners and policymakers, and many have pointed to the opioid epidemic as a major contributing factor. Despite the anecdotes, there has not been nationwide empirical evidence to support this. In this webinar, Annette Waters (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, US Department of Health and Human Services) and Melinda Baldwin (The Children’s Bureau, US Department of Health and Human Services) will present results from a mixed methods study demonstrating that there is a relationship between substance use and opioid misuse prevalence, and child welfare outcomes. They will also discuss the unique challenges the current opioid epidemic is presenting to child welfare systems.
Annette L. Waters, PhD is a senior social science analyst in ASPE’s Office of Human Services Policy (HSP). Annette conducts both quantitative and qualitative research on low income populations and the social welfare programs that they use. She is currently the project manager and statistician for the Parental Substance Use, Opioid Misuse and Child Welfare study. She has also started a new project on the Intersection of Substance Use Disorders and Child Support. Prior to working in HSP, Annette was a statistician and demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau. At the Census, she worked on several national surveys including the “Survey of Income and Program Participation” and the “American Community Survey.” Annette has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Maryland at College Park and M.A. in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. When she was a post-doctoral research fellow at Princeton University, she worked as an ethnographer for the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Moving to Opportunity Program.
Melinda Baldwin, PhD, LCSW is a child welfare specialist at the Children’s Bureau. She is a subject matter expert in behavioral health, trauma, and its intersection with child welfare. She partners with ASPE, the CDC, and MITRE to conduct research on children and youth in congregate care, fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, and the impact of opioids on child welfare. Melinda’s field experience is extensive, working on the front lines as a social worker with families in the child welfare system, training resource families, and conducting forensic sexual abuse interviews, and providing behavioral health services to victims of sexual abuse and their families. Moving up through the administrative ranks, she became Director of Child Welfare at Hephzibah Children’s Association managing the continuum of services to children, youth and their families from community prevention work to therapeutic diagnostic and residential services to children. Just prior to working at the Children’s Bureau, Melinda was a faculty member at Northeastern Illinois University first as the Field Director and then teaching across the curriculum. She also taught in the MSW program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Melinda has a PhD in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MSW from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her doctoral research focused on decision making in child protective services particularly focusing on how parental criminal history impacts decisions to place children in substitute care.