Substance Use Among Youth and Families: What are the Big Issues and What Is Texas Doing About It?


Across the country and here in Texas, there is a growing recognition that many children and families have been devastated by substance use and, in many cases, profoundly affected by authorities’ response to substance use. While opioids have been in the headlines, other substances -- including alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamines, and other drugs -- have also had a significant impact on Texas families. We’ve seen that the consequences of substance use and the reaction to it can include the removal of children by Child Protective Services (CPS), tragic overdoses, newborns with withdrawal symptoms or a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and more.

For Texans working on policies and programs related to mental health, CPS, juvenile justice, health care access, maternal and child health, and other policy areas, the human and societal costs of substance use and co-occurring challenges cannot be ignored. 

To bring more attention to these issues, Texans Care for Children is launching a series of discussions to better assess the impact of substance use on Texas children and what Texas can do to ensure more children are safe, healthy, and on a path to succeed.

We are pleased to invite you to join us for the three part-discussion series, “Substance Use Among Youth and Families: What are the Big Issues and What Is Texas Doing About It?”

The series is intended to explore the current policy and program landscape, highlight data and trends in Texas, and lay the groundwork for future discussions on developing policy recommendations. The series will include how substance use and the lack of effective treatment options directly affect Texas children’s health, well-being, and behavior and how children are affected by the ways that CPS, schools, the criminal justice system, and others respond to substance use. Each discussion will feature a panel of speakers followed by a moderated discussion. Attendees will be encouraged to share additional information, perspectives, and resources.

The series will feature the following three discussions:

October 10: Overview of the Effect of Substance Use on Texas Children and Families

Texans Care for Children staff will share what we know and what we don’t know from data on substance use in Texas; the connection to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs); local, state, and federal programs for addressing substance use; and other subjects. 

November 14: Substance Use Among Youth & The Texas Response

Speakers will examine the ways that schools, the behavioral health system, the CPS system, and the juvenile justice system respond to youth substance use -- including prevention, intervention, and treatment efforts as well as disciplinary responses -- and how these responses affect youth outcomes and well-being. The discussion will also address recent state policy changes and future policy opportunities.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Judge Michael Schneider, 315th Juvenile Court, Harris County
  • Lauren Rose, Director of Youth Justice Policy, Texans Care for Children
  • Eric Niedermayer, CEO, Recovery Resource Council in Fort Worth

December 12: Substance Use Among Parents & The Texas Response

Speakers will address prevention and treatment of substance use among pregnant women; ways to mitigate health effects for infants; the way the CPS system responds to substance use and co-occurring disorders among parents; how the criminal justice system’s response to parents’ substance use affects children; prevention, treatment, and recovery strategies; recent state policy changes; and future policy opportunities.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Leah Davies, Program Manager, Strategic Health Alliance at the Texas Center for Disability, University of Texas at Austin: Will address issues regarding prenatal alcohol and fetal alcohol syndrome disorders.
  • Marco Quesada, CPS State Office Substance Abuse Specialist, Best Practice Division, Texas DFPS: Will address CPS involvement with families with parental substance use.
  • Julie Steed, Women's Substance Use Disorder Specialist, IDD and Behavioral Health Services Section, Texas HHSC: Will address state treatment programs that specialize in serving women.
  • Falba Turner, Director of Mentor Programs, Seedling Foundation: Will address parental incarceration.

Details for Each Discussion:

1:00 to 3:00 pm
Texas Hospital Association
1108 Lavaca Street #700 in Austin