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Families in Focus (Focus) Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Project

What is Families in Focus?

  • A three-year (October 2012- September 2015) three-million dollar cooperative agreement awarded to the Iowa Department of Public Health and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to improve treatment and recovery support services for adolescents with substance use or co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders
  • A collaboration of local community-based treatment service providers selected as Families in Focus Centers; representatives of community-based advisory groups; the Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation; and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Why Families in Focus for adolescent treatment?

  • Yearly, only about 10% of Iowa's adolescents who need treatment receive it. Data show that 23,272 Iowa's adolescents need treatment for alcohol and an additional 11,440 need treatment for illicit drugs.
  • To help meet Iowa's Adolescent treatment service needs, Families in Focus is:
    • Providing more effective evidence-based practices for justice-involved adolescents using the Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) approach.
    • Working to increase capacity to serve adolescents with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.
    • Increasing family involvement for adolescents served through substance abuse, mental health and juvenile justice systems.
    • Increasing provider training in evidence-based adolescent substance and multi-occurring practices.
    • Working to decrease disparities in treatment outcomes based on gender, race and ethnicity for Iowa's youth.
    • Increasing access to recovery support options for youth.
    • Providing better treatment access for rural youth and families.

What are the goals of the Families in Focus grant?

  1. Support Iowa's behavioral health providers in moving toward a more coordinated effort to serve adolescents and their families
    • Implemented the MDFT adolescent treatment model by reviewing and disseminating materials describing current client outcomes, needs, disparities, and the selected treatment model; and scheduling and implementing training and certification of Focus Center staff.
    • Established a quarterly Focus Interagency and Stakeholder Advisory Subcommittee and Focus Youth and Family Advisory Committee under IDPH's Strategic Prevention Framework Advisory Council. The subcommittee is composed of members recruited to ensure that Iowa's youth in need are provided a coordinated delivery of both treatment and recovery supports throughout Iowa.
  2. Expand and Enhance family treatment
    • Three-year projection of 180 adolescents and their parents/family/caregivers will receive quality family-informed care.
  3. Develop Iowa's Professional Workforce?
    • Train a team of 18 certified MDFT therapists, 6 certified MDFT supervisors and 2 state-wide MDFT Trainers of Trainers. This model effectively places certified professionals in place throughout Iowa to sustain the program after the grant funding ends.
  4. Process and Outcome Evaluation
    • The Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation (Consortium) is Iowa's contractor for process and outcome portions of the project evaluation. The Consortium is also gathering and analyzing data along with scheduling and conducting key informant interviews.
Focus Announcements and Updates

Upcoming Events:

  • September 11, 2014: Introduction to Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy Training. Registration can be obtained through

Focus Documents