The Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Waiver Demonstration

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

What is a Waiver Demonstration?

Waiver demonstrations provide states with an opportunity to use federal funds more flexibly in order to test innovative approaches to child welfare service delivery and financing. Using this option, states can design and demonstrate a wide range of approaches to reforming child welfare and improving outcomes in the areas of safety, permanency, and well­ being. Waiver demonstrations must utilize a rigorous evaluation design (e.g. randomized clinical trial) and remain cost neutral.

The Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Waiver Demonstration

The Illinois waiver demonstration is designed to improve reunification and other family permanency and safety outcomes for foster children from drug-­involved families. The program theory underlying the Illinois waiver demonstration is that programmatic outcomes improve when the program elements include:

  • Careful assessment of client alcohol and drug use, as well as other problems surrounding the family
  • Tailored treatment plans so that specific services are matched with or designed to address specific problems
  • Specific linkage mechanisms (e.g. referral, onsite services or intensive case management) that increase access to these services.

The evaluation design is experimental; that is, parents are randomly assigned to either a control or experimental (demonstration) condition. Parents randomly assigned to the demonstration group receive traditional services plus the enhanced services provided by a Recovery Coach.

The Recovery Coach works with the parent, child welfare caseworker, and treatment agency to remove barriers to treatment, engage the parent in treatment, provide outreach to re­engage the parent if necessary, and provide ongoing support to the parent and family through the duration of the child welfare case. Parents assigned to the control group receive services as usual. This is not a “no treatment” intervention design.

The demonstration operates in three counties: Cook, Madison and St. Clair. As of August 2015, approximately 4,300 parents are enrolled in the Illinois Waiver Demonstration.

Click here for a detailed infographic of project results.