Recovery Coaches

Updated: Feb 09, 2018
Evidence Rating:
Suggestive Tier


  • Program:

    A program that provides the case management services of a Recovery Coach to parents suspected of substance abuse who have temporarily lost custody of their children.

  • Evaluation Methods:

    A well-conducted randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a sample of 60 child welfare agencies in Illinois working with 2,763 parents.

  • Key Findings:

    14% increase in families being reunified; 15% increase in foster care cases being closed, and net savings to the state of $2600 per child, over an average follow-up period of five years.

This Illinois state program provides the case management services of a Recovery Coach to parents who have temporarily lost custody of their children to the state, and are suspected substance abusers. The Recovery Coach works with the parent, child welfare caseworker, and substance-abuse treatment agencies to (i) remove barriers to treatment, (ii) engage the parent in treatment, (iii) provide outreach to re-engage the parent if necessary, and (iv) provide ongoing support to the parent and family through the duration of the child welfare case. Recovery Coaches have a bachelor-level degree and are trained and supervised in the program. A description of the program is linked here.

To see our full evidence summary:
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Profiles of the Title IV-E Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Projects, James Bell Associates: Arlington, Virginia, June 2010, pp. 52-56.

Testa, Mark F., Joseph P. Ryan, Pedro M. Hernandez, Hui Huan, Illinois AODA IV-E Waiver Demonstration Interim Evaluation Report, University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign, School of Social Work, Children and Family Research Center, September 2009.

Ryan, Joseph P., Sam Choi, Jun Sung Hong, Pedro Hernandez, and Christopher R. Larrison, “Recovery Coaches and Substance Exposed Births: An Experiment in Child Welfare,” Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 32, 2008, pp. 1072-1079.

Ryan, Joseph P., Jeanne Marsh, Mark Testa, and Richard Louderman, “Integrating Substance Abuse Treatment and Child Welfare Services: Findings from the Illinois AODA Waiver Demonstration,” Social Work Research., vol. 30, no. 2, 2006, pp. 95-107.