Families in Focus Substance Abuse Treatment Project

(State Youth Treatment - Implementation)

What is Families in Focus?

  • Families in Focus (Focus) is a 3 year grant (from October 2015 – September 2018), which is an extension of the previous project (from October 2012 – March 2016), that served adolescents ages 12-17.
  • Focus is intended to expand and enhance evidence based practices and recovery support services that are utilized in substance abuse treatment for adolescent and transitional aged youth (TAY) ages 12-25.
  • Focus is a $2.4 million cooperative agreement awarded to the Iowa Department of Public Health and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • Focus is a collaboration of local community-based treatment service providers selected as 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?

  • According to Iowa’s data reporting system, 46.4% of Iowa’s adolescents (12 to 17) and TAY (18 to 25) have co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.
  • To help meet Iowa’s Adolescent/TAY treatment service needs, Focus will:
    • Implement evidence-based practices for adolescents/TAY’s by use of Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy/Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MET/CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI) approaches, and Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT),
    • Implement use of standardized testing for adolescents/youth by use of the Comprehensive Adolescent Severity Inventory (CASI),
    • Increase workforce capacity to serve adolescents/TAY’s with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders,
    • Decrease disparities in treatment outcomes based on gender, race and ethnicity for Iowa’s youth,
    • Improve treatment access for rural youth and families,
    • Expand treatment services for youth in the juvenile justice system,
    • Improve referral processes through use of the Re/Think Recovery website (www.rethinkrecovery.org),
    • Increase access to recovery support options for youth, and
    • Improve State infrastructure through examination of the State’s policies and programs which serve youth.

What are the goals of the Families in Focus grant?

Goal 1:  To advance the state in further establishing a coordinated effort to serve adolescents and their families

  • The Adolescent Steering Committee and Financing Subcommittees will assist to monitor and oversee Focus, as well as examine and implement State policies and procedures, which impact the population of focus.

Goal 2: To expand and Enhance Treatment for an additional 500 adolescents and transitional aged youth.

  • Iowa will serve youth by expanding evidence-based adolescent, TAY and family treatment through use of Multidimensional Family Therapy, Comprehensive Adolescent Severity Inventory assessments, Motivational Enhancement Treatment/Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and will pilot Feedback Informed Treatment.
  • Iowa will increase Recovery Support Services for adolescents/TAY’s.

Goal 3: To Improve Outcomes for Adolescents, Transitional Aged Youth and Families

  • Iowa will utilize various data systems to track outcomes for Focus participants.
  • Participants will maintain program completion rates of 75%.  At least 80% of adolescents and transitional aged youth who complete treatment will report improved outcomes.

Treatment Services / Links

Motivational Enhancement Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Multidimensional Family Therapy 

MyTimetoChange.org - My Time to Change was created to offer assistance to parents, peers and concerned community members to recognize the signs and symptoms of substance use disorders, identify local resources to connect with, learn more about MET/CBT and hear stories of young adults who benefited from treatment.

Annual Evaluation Reports:

Focus Announcements and Updates

Upcoming Events:


Adolescent Substance Use Webinar Past Recordings and Powerpoints

The training website contains additional information about the webinars offered in the series.

January 29, 2019 - A Toolkit for Adolescent Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral and Treatment (SBIRT), Tracy McPherson, PhD

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - Medication Assisted Treatment for Adolescents with Opioid Use Disorder, Ned Presnall, MSW, LISW

Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - Understanding the Social and Biological Aspects of Adolescent Development and Substance Use Disorders, Jason Burrow-Sanchez, PhD 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 -  Using the ASAM Criteria to Guide Assessment and Treatment of Youth, Marc Fishman, PhD

Sponsored by Iowa Department of Public Health, Division of Behavioral Health and funded by the State Youth Treatment Implementation grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Agenda and presenter handout (from the Youth and Recovery event on September 27, 2018)

Past keynote presentations (from the Youth and Recovery event on September 25, 2017)

Families in Focus Documents