Collaborative Practice Tools

The goal of the professionals who work with children and families affected by substance use disorders and involved in the child welfare system is to facilitate positive outcomes for these families. Ideally, the parent will receive effective treatment for the substance use disorder so that the child can remain with the parent, while the well-being of the child is fully supported throughout the parent’s recovery process. Achieving this outcome requires intensive collaboration by multiple agencies working with the family.

Collaboration among all three systems presents certain barriers that must be overcome. There is a shifting role for professionals as they develop and implement a new way of communicating with one another on policy issues. Differences in practice among stakeholders, from courtroom to courtroom, from agency to agency, and from provider to provider must be recognized and addressed.


For technical assistance on administering the Collaborative Values Inventory or Collaborative Capacity Inventory, please contact the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare via email at or by phone at (866) 493-2758. For ease of administration and analysis, we do not recommend manual administration of this instrument. 



The Collaborative Practice Model for Family Recovery, Safety and Stability



The Collaborative Practice Model provides ten system linkage elements that child welfare agencies, substance abuse treatment providers, family courts and other agencies can use to collaborate with each other. This publication defines and provides examples of collaborative practice in each of the ten system linkage elements.


The Collaborative Practice Model for Family Recovery, Safety and Stability (PDF)

Informational Flyer (PDF)


Collaborative Values Inventory

What Do We Believe About Alcohol and Other Drugs, Services to Children and Families, and Dependency Courts?


The Collaborative Values Inventory is a questionnaire to be completed by cross-disciplinary teams of professionals who are seeking a better understanding of the values that guide different disciplines and systems. After completing the questionnaire anonymously, it is helpful to have the items scored and then a formal meeting(s) to discuss the similarities and differences across systems. The intent of the questionnaire is to assist community members and professional staff in developing common principles for their work together.


Collaborative Values Inventory (anonymous web-based survey)

Collaborative Values Inventory [PDF]


Collaborative Capacity Instrument

Reviewing and Assessing the Status of Linkages Across Alcohol and Drug Treatment, Child Welfare Services and Dependency Courts.

The Collaborative Capacity Instrument was developed by CFF staff to be used as a self-assessment by County (and/or State) alcohol and other drug service and child welfare service agencies who are preparing to work with each other or who may be seeking to move to a new level of cooperation after some initial efforts. The questions were designed to elicit discussion among and within both sets of agencies about their readiness for closer work with each other.


Collaborative Capacity Instrument - AOD, MH, CWS, and Courts (PDF)

State Level Collaborative Capacity Instrument (Anonymous web-based survey)

Local Level Collaborative Capacity Instrument (Anonymous web-based survey)

Tribal Collaborative Capacity Instrument (Anonymous web-based survey)

Regional Partnership Grants Collaborative Capacity Instrument (Anonymous web-based survey)

Collaborative Capacity Instrument [PDF]


Matrix of Progress

This framework describes ten elements on which to measure the capacity of agencies to work as partners on the substance abuse needs of CWS clients. This document is included in the Technical Assistance Publication (TAP) TAP 27: Navigating the Pathways: Lessons and Promising Practices in Linking Alcohol and Drug Services with Child Welfare published by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Agencies may be assessed for their capacity to build these partnerships by utilizing the Collaborative Capacity Instrument.


Matrix of Progress