A systematic review of the effectiveness of interagency and cross-system collaborations in the United States to improve child welfare outcomes

Ijeoma Nwabuzor Ogbonnaya, Annie J. Keeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The purpose of this systematic review is to summarize the effects of interagency and cross-system collaboration aimed to improve child welfare-involved children and family outcomes related to safety, permanency, and well-being. We conducted a comprehensive search to identify studies that evaluated interagency/cross-system child welfare collaborations, resulting in 11 studies selected for inclusion. The analysis included narrative and meta-analysis approaches. All selected studies focused on substance use; our search criteria did not identify any interagency collaborations related to other co-occurring conditions, such as domestic violence and mental health. Results from both narrative and meta-analyses revealed family drug treatment court (FDTC) collaboration intervention was positively associated with the entry (OR = 2.935, 95% CI [1.498, 5.753]) and completion (OR = 2.074, 95% CI [1.263, 3.406]) of substance use services. Additionally, FDTC (OR = 2.401, 95% CI [1.751, 3.292]) and recovery coaches (OR = 1.522, 95% CI [1.166, 1.987]) were positively associated with likelihood of reunification. Narrative and meta-analysis results related to the relationship between FDTC and days to reunification were less positive across studies (g = 0.470, 95% CI [0.247, 0.694]). Thus suggesting, although FDTC may positively influence the likelihood that children are reunified with their families in the future, this intervention may have less influence on how quickly families achieve the reunification process. We found positive client outcomes regardless if there existed a lower (co-ordination) or higher (integration) level of collaboration, demonstrating positive collaboration outcomes may occur using limited child welfare resources. This systematic review can benefit child welfare practitioners, policymakers, and families in selecting the most appropriate and effective interagency/cross-system substance use services. We discuss recommendations for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-245
Number of pages21
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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