Family Voices United asked current and former foster youth, parents, and kinship and relative caregivers: 

Sometimes a parent's mental or behavioral health (including addiction) leads to a child entering foster care. What specific type of supportive services could be provided to families to better help them remain together?

Some key themes that came out of the responses we received to this question:

  • Provide us with timely, unbiased, culturally relevant, and evidence-based prevention services that center family engagement. 

  • We need rehabilitation and treatment programs that serve and support the entire family, including caregivers, and children, when providing treatment services for mental health or substance use. 

  • Create space for individuals with lived experience to serve as peer mentors and deliver treatment programming and services to families.

  • Connect us with trauma-informed mental health and family engagement services that address the root and systemic challenges and reasons for addiction, including adverse childhood experiences and trauma.

  • Address and support our basic needs by providing housing, transportation, food, education, employment, and child care assistance.

How to use this paper: 

The Family First Act can allow states to reimagine child welfare systems - including understanding and implementing trauma-informed preventive and treatment services. In this paper, you will hear from kinship caregivers, birth parents, current and former foster youth as they discuss the types of support services and resources that will help families who are facing mental, behavioral health, and/or addiction challenges receive support, build on their strengths and stay out of the foster care system, wherever possible. You can apply the expertise from those with lived experience outlined in this paper to develop prevention services and support programs that better address mental and behavioral health challenges, promote child and family well-being, and prevent unnecessary entry into the child welfare system. If you are interested in using the quotes or perspective contained in this document or if you would like to bring young people, parents, and relative caregivers to your event or project, email the Family Voices United team at or call 503.717.1552