Family CONNECT: Family Engagement and Cross-System Linkage to Substance Use Treatment for Juvenile Probationers

Principal Investigator: 

Funding Agency:

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) 

Study Location:

Dutchess County, New York, USA

Suffolk County, New York, USA


Youth involved in the juvenile justice system are more likely to use substances or have a substance use disorder than those in the general population. Well over half of juvenile justice involved youth do not receive substance use services due to numerous individual, family and broader contextual factors that limit their access to care; yet, few evidence-based linkage-to-service programs address barriers to treatment. 

This project adapts and combines two evidence-based linkage-to-services programs for youth on probation. The first is Project CONNECT, a linkage-to-services program that targets barriers within the probation and substance abuse treatment systems. The second is TIES, a program designed to teach family engagement strategies to providers so they can help families increase access to and retention in care. Family CONNECT is a new linkage-to-service model being implemented in probation settings that targets both family and system-level factors to increase youth’s use of and retention in substance use services. The project uses Linkage Specialists working within probation departments to assist probation officers in improving service linkage. 

Working in two NYS counties, this is a 3-Phase project with the following specific aims: (1) to combine Project CONNECT linkage-to-service procedures with adapted TIES family engagement strategies to create an innovative linkage-to-services model for youth (Family CONNECT) to be used in probation settings (Phases 1 and 2); (2) to examine, in a pilot-test with n=50 families (plus n=2 pre-pilot families), the impact of Family CONNECT on improving referral from probation to substance abuse treatment; youth and family engagement; youth enrollment/retention in substance abuse treatment; and effect on youth substance use and recidivism (Phase 3); and (3) to identify family and probation organizational factors that influence Family CONNECT implementation in probation settings to inform a larger trial (Phase 3).



  • Elkington, K.S. Levine, S., Studer, L., McReynolds, L., & Wasserman, G. (2016). Understanding the Pathway into Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment for Youth on Probation: Family-, Staff- and System-Level Facilitators and Barriers.  NIMH Conference on Mental Health Services Research, August 2016.