METHODS: Intake and program data from all individuals who enrolled in the program between 1999 and 2009 were analyzed to identify characteristics that contribute to the length of time participants remained in the program (N = 1,052). Length of time in the program was operationalized as the number of sessions attended. Intake data were gathered during face-to-face interviews that occurred prior to beginning the program. The intake assessment included demographic information, data about current substance use, reason(s) for attending the program, and involvement in the probation and child welfare systems.
RESULTS: All participants had children between 0-18 months, an eligibility requirement for the program. Participants were asked about drugs they used regularly. Of the 1,052 participants, 74.2% reported alcohol as a drug they used regularly, 68.8% identified marijuana, and 36.2% selected cocaine/crack. The majority of program participants were female (88.5%) and of a minority race/ethnicity (67.8%). Participants were on average 25.9 years old. Additionally, 74.2% were required by Child Protective Services (CPS) to attend the program and 16.1% reported they were on probation or parole. Of the 30 sessions offered, participants attended an average of 15.7 sessions (SD = 5.39).
Regression analysis was used to identify characteristics that predict length of time participants remained in the program. Several personal characteristics emerged as significant, including: age, gender, income, CPS involvement, and probation/parole status (F=4.912, p<.001, Rē=.041, Adjusted Rē=.032). Older participants, females, those with incomes above the Federal Poverty Guidelines, those on probation/parole, and those required to attend the program by CPS remained in the program longer. In a separate analysis, regression was used to determine if any of the current drugs of choice might predict length of time in the program. Only crack/cocaine and tobacco use were associated with program length (F=2.130, p<.031, Rē=.016, Adjusted Rē=.009). However, when the effects of the significant variables were assessed together, only age, income, CPS involvement, tobacco use, and crack/cocaine use remained predictors of length of stay (F=7.012, p<.001, Rē=.045, Adjusted Rē=.039).
DISCUSSION: Several personal characteristics were predictive of parents' length of stay in the program. Additionally, this study contributed to understanding circumstantial factors (e.g., CPS involvement, probation/parole status) that are predictive of parents' length of stay in the program. Consistent with prior studies (e.g., Brady, et al., 2005; SAMHSA, 2009), the findings suggest that the intervention may be best suited for individuals who have external motivators for their participation. Future research should focus on other aspects of retention, like social support and characteristics of service providers. The findings of this study provide important insights to providers and policymakers as they work to ensure that services are accessible to those individuals who are most likely to benefit.