New Jersey Substance Abuse Research Demonstration, 1998-2001

New Jersey Substance Abuse Research Demonstration provided information about the effectiveness of a type of evaluation several states have experimented with to move substance abusing welfare clients toward self-sufficiency. The intervention New Jersey implemented included screening welfare recipients for substance abuse problems, treatment referral mechanisms with enhanced case management, and substance abuse treatment coordinated with employment and training or vocational services. The intervention evaluated was intended to improve the post welfare prospects of TANF recipients with substance abuse problems. The evaluation was conducted in two New Jersey counties, Essex County and Atlantic County.

The grantee, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, produced three products resulting from the evaluation, which are intended for use by ACF and the State to disseminate information about the project. These included: (1) a descriptive profile of the population served by New Jersey’s welfare to work program, including how many have substance use disorders as well as other barriers to self sufficiency; (2) an implementation report describing the difficulties encountered and lessons learned about implementing these services as well as issues to be considered in establishing substance abuse interventions in welfare contexts; and (3) an outcomes report describing outcomes for participants and controls twelve months post-treatment.

To assess the prevalence of substance use disorders and associated problems among female TANF recipients in welfare-to-work programs and to determine their impact on 12-month self-sufficiency outcomes. To provide a comprehensive description of the implementation of the control and experimental interventions and the performance of each system in providing access and retaining women in substance abuse treatment. To compare one-year outcomes of the control and experimental interventions in the following domains: employment, welfare, child welfare and health, substance abuse, housing stability, psychiatric problems, and legal problems. To conduct a cost study of substance abuse treatment including cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses.

The evaluation used random assignment to compare two intervention models, looking at outcomes in several domains including employment and family self-sufficiency, substance use and associated behaviors, child development and family functioning, and child welfare involvement.

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