The Parent‐Child Assistance Program (PCAP) is an award winning, evidence‐informed, home visitation, case management model for pregnant and parenting women with substance use disorders. PCAP goals are to help mothers build healthy families and prevent future births of children exposed prenatally to alcohol and drugs.
In the mid-1980's, Dr. Therese Grant was part of the research team at the University of Washington’s Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit who received a federal grant to study the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure on infants and young children. She found the most important lessons were learned from the conversations with the mothers who had deeply ingrained family dysfunction in their lives but wanted to be good moms. Instead, they were giving their babies the same kind of upbringing they had experienced as a child. They did not know any other way. This insight inspired Dr. Grant to continue this work and start the Parent-Child Assistance Program (PCAP).
In 1991, funding was received from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The researchers at UW began working with high‐risk mothers to help them address substance abuse issues, rebuild their lives, and prevent future births of children exposed prenatally to alcohol and drugs. Thus, the PCAP model was developed. Data showed that most of the mothers enrolled in PCAP were themselves abused, neglected, and deprived children. They found that moms, without help, will continue to experience a host of problems associated with intergenerational substance abuse and continue to bear children who suffer in turn. Since its inception in the 1990’s, PCAP has become an evidence-informed, honored, and recognized program serving pregnant and parenting moms with substance use disorders (SUD).
Extensively trained and highly supervised case managers work directly with women over a period of three years to help them through SUD treatment and recovery, connecting them to community resources to enable them to keep their children safely in their custody, avoid criminal justice involvement, and ensure that any future children are not exposed to substances. Small caseloads (~16 clients) enable case managers to provide home visiting, motivational interviewing, and assistance with goal setting related to obtaining alcohol/drug treatment; staying in recovery; choosing a family planning method; staying up to date with child health care; addressing housing, domestic violence, and child custody problems; and resolving system service barriers. Partnerships between clients, families, and community service providers promote long-term success.
The Parent-Child Assistance Program (PCAP) was brought to Oklahoma through a partnership between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and the University of Washington (UW) to address Oklahoma’s high rates of substance use disorders (SUD), child maltreatment, and female incarceration rates. This five-year randomized control trial (RCT) will provide 3 years of intensive, one-on-one case management to pregnant and parenting mothers with substance use disorders. PCAP will refer and support clients to achieve economic security and stable and secure employment, a key aspect of recovery that will benefit both them and their children. The data generated from the study will provide quality evidence to show the programs’ effectiveness.