The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recently released a report, “Substance Use Disorder in Pregnancy: Improving Outcomes for Families,” which details the Administration’s plan to improve access to effective treatment for people who are pregnant and have substance use disorders, support families and prevent unnecessary foster care placements, and make better use of data across service systems.

The report notes that “having SUD in pregnancy is not, by itself, child abuse or neglect,” and that “criminalizing SUD in pregnancy is ineffective and harmful as it prevents pregnant women with SUD from seeking and receiving the help they need.” It includes examples from states that have implemented innovative programs or processes to better serve this population.

Some of the actions planned by the Biden-Harris Administration to address this issue, particularly under the category of preventing unnecessary foster care placement, include better communication about, and a recognition of shared responsibility in, Plans of Safe Care for infants born exposed to substances, making updates to the implementation of evidence-based programs through the Family First Prevention Services Clearinghouse, and recommendations to Congress to expand funding for child welfare programs that support families and parents with substance use disorders.

ONDCP particularly highlights the need for additional funding for grants to address racial inequities in child welfare and to significantly expand funding for the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program, the Regional Partnership Grants, and the Court Improvement Program, all programs in Title IV-B of the Social Security Act that prioritize supporting and keeping families together. These recommendations align with CWLA’s recommendations for Title IV-B reauthorization, which was not completed last year and therefore will be on the table again this year.

The report includes a thorough appendix with resources for states and advocates.