Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Katie Wang


Literature suggests that many individuals are stigmatized based on their substance use history and through their involvement with child welfare institutions (Nieweglowski et al., 2018; Kenny et al., 2015). Given the negative consequences of being stigmatized (Hatzenbuehler et al., 2013), individuals who use substances and who are also involved with child protective services may be particularly impacted. Through participant narratives, this paper explores experiences of stigma in a Family Treatment Court (FTC) in New York State. The interviews provide insight into court procedures that contribute to experiences of stigma and affect parent compliance with court requirements. Research findings suggest that incorporation of a strengths-based model, through staff trainings and organization-level policies, can strengthen caseworker-participant relationships. Improved communication and trust between FTC personnel and participants, in turn, can help reduce experiences of stigma and lead to improved participant wellbeing.


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