Methampetamine & Child Welfare

Also see our Hot Topics page on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare


  • Program and Practice Guidelines
    The National Resource Center for Child Protection has developed a series of guidelines for safety intervention and management with methamphetamine-using families. They include:
    • Safety Intervention in Methamphetamin Using Families
    • CPS Intake Safety Intervention With Methamphetamine Using Families
    • Safety Management With Methamphetamine-Using Caregivers
    • Ongoing Child Protective Services (CPS) with Methamphetamine Using Families: Implementing Promising Practices

  • Methamphetamine Addiction, Treatment, and Outcomes: Implications for Child Welfare Workers
    From the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, this paper provides an overview of methamphetamine (meth). Authors present the most current research on methamphetamine, its effects on families, and treatment options available.

  • Meth and Child Welfare: Promising Solutions for Children, Their Parents, and Grandparents
    This report from Generations United examines the impact of methamphetamines on children, families, communities and the child welfare system. It identifies some promising strategies to prevent meth use, keep children safe, and help parents with addictions complete treatment, and provides a comprehensive set of recommendations.

  • Meth Science, Not Stigma: An Open Letter to the Media
    Medical and psychological researchers, treatment providers and specialists with many years of experience studying addictions and addiction treatment have written a letter to the media to request that policies addressing prenatal exposure to methamphetamines and media coverage of this issue be based on science, not presumption or prejudice. The letter condemns the usage of such terms as “ice babies” or “meth babies” as pejorative and stigmatizing labels used in the popular media. This is a timely caution for all of us as we learn how to deal with the increasing problem of the effects of methamphetamine use on child welfare systems.

  • Maternal Methamphetamine Use During Pregnancy and Child Outcome: What Do We Know?
    This article from the New Zealand Medical Journal examines what evidence could be found regarding the effects of maternal meth use on the developing fetus. It suggests that while there are likely to be adverse developmental effects for children exposed prenatally to methamphetamine, we as yet do not know specifically what those effects will be.

  • Children: The Real Victims of Meth Exposure
    This paper begins by discussing key considerations in identifying and treating drug exposed infants and children, and the differences between methamphetamine and cocaine. Common symptoms in infants who were perinatally exposed to drugs, toddlers and preschool children perinatally exposed to drugs, and in school-age children are explained, along with possible treatments. Additional information is provided on treatment plans for drug exposed infants and children, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and statistics on methamphetamine use in Minnesota.

  • Ongoing Child Protective Services (CPS) with Methamphetamine Using Families: Implementing Promising Practices
    This paper from the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Child Protective Services focuses on promising or acceptable interventions that may be useful as change based services once methamphetamine use by a caregiver has been identified.

Resources from the States and Tribes

  • Arkansas
    Poison, Problem, and Perspective: The Impact of Methamphetamine on the Arkansas Child Welfare System

    In an effort to determine the impact of methamphetamine use on the child welfare system, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families collected and analyzed quantitative data from a variety of sources, interviewed key informants within the state, organized focus groups of local family service workers and foster parents, and talked with experts from across the country. Included in this report is an analysis of the limitations of the data currently available in Arkansas, recommendations for improving data collection, and guidelines for future efforts to address this latest challenge to the state's child welfare system.

  • Illinois
    • Caregiver's Guide for Care of Children Exposed to Methamphetamine Laboratories
      Instructions for caregivers; includes decontamination precautions and both physical and emotional signs to look out for.
    • Drug Endangered Children (DEC) Statewide Protocol: Guidelines for Methamphetamine
    • Statewide Medical Care Protocol for Drug Endangered Children In Illegal Methamphetamine Labs
    • Physician's Guide for Medical Care of Children Exposed to Methamphetamine Laboratories
    • Drug Endangered Children Medical Care Protocol: Exposure Record
    • Checklist to Determine Need For On-Scene Decontamination Prior To Transport

  • Missouri
    Guidelines for Managing Children Found at Methamphetamine Laboratory Sites
    Guidelines developed to assist communities in dealing with children who are found at methamphetamine sites in Missouri. These were developed under the state's Children in Meth Labs Project.

  • North Carolina
    Meth and Family-Centered Child Welfare Practice
    Many states are experiencing a rise in child welfare cases related to the production and/or use of methamphetamine. This issue of Children's Service Practice Notes from the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the Family and Children's Resource Program of Jordan Institute for Families and the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is devoted to information about meth and responding to its challenges in an effective, family-centered way.

  • Tribal Law and Policy Institute: Perceptions of Methamphetamine Use in Three Western Tribal Communities: Implications for Child Abuse in Indian Country
    A survey of professionals in three western Tribal communities assessed their perceptions of methamphetamine use and the implications for child abuse in the communities in which they work. The specific purpose of the survey was to assess community perceptions and awareness of methamphetamine use and the impact on child maltreatment, permanency outcomes, and agency workloads. The report includes qualitative and quantitative results; the authors offer recommendations to promote agency collaboration and family reunification and suggest strategies for funding, programs, and research that could help combat the impact of methamphetamine on Tribal communities.


  • Meth Basics and Worker Safety
    This training module presents essential information for Texas Child Protective Services staff who may encounter methamphetamine users, settings where meth is used or manufactured, and children at risk due to caregiver meth use or meth lab dangers. It focuses on risk assessment and worker safety in these situations. Visitors can view the module as an internet slideshow.  Trainers and training managers can download a zip file of the module with permission to modify the original PowerPoint file to customize it for their own employees and setting.  The module has information specific to Texas and Texas CPS, so that information may not be fully relevant in other settings, but can be adapted.  The first two slides in the zipped PowerPoint give more information about permission for use and adaptation.

Webcasts, Teleconferences and Conference Proceedings

  • Methamphetamine: The Child Welfare Impact and Response
    On May 8 and 9, 2006, the Children's Bureau hosted a conference on Methamphetamines and the impact of the drug on children and families, in partnership with SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the Child Care Bureau. This two day event drew hundreds of child welfare staff, substance abuse treatment staff, child care staff and persons in recovery from all over the country. A variety of informative and moving presentations were given on the impact of Methamphetamines.

  • A Community Partnership Approach to Addressing Meth
    This webcast from the Department of Justice was broadcast August 22, 2006. It addresses how community policing and partnerships can be used to enhance enforcement activities as well as prevention efforts. Free registration on the site enables you to view the archive.


  • Meth Resources from the Federal Government
    This site provides a wealth of resources. Sponsored by the White House Office of national Drug Control Policy, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health & Human Services.

  • Methamphetamine Resources
    This National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare site provides methamphetamine resources, including a good sampling of state and local protocols.

  • Impact of Methamphetamines on the Child Welfare System
    Methamphetamine use is a growing problem for children and families across the country. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has developed a list of resources on a variety of topics to help child welfare workers understand what methamphetamine is and how it affects users. Includes state and local examples.

  • The Methamphetamine Epidemic
    This National Public Radio site provides information about the growing crisis caused by methamphetamine, which is being faced by both law enforcement and child welfare in many states.

  • Methamphetamine Use and Child Welfare
    This resource from the National Data Analysis System captures information about whether methamphetamine use has been identified as a problem within a state and the number of children who have been placed as a result. Notes provide greater detail about states' experiences with the methamphetamine problem.

Last updated 03/02/08