Multidimensional Family Recovery (MDFR)

MDFR (known previously as Engaging Moms/Parents Program or EMP/EPP) addresses the complex, multigenerational challenges facing families affected by parental substance use and child welfare system involvement. It is an integrative intervention that focuses on the whole family in a comprehensive way. The approach is based on research suggesting that the best way to improve immediate and long-term outcomes for vulnerable children is to repair and strengthen the whole family. Research indicates that the most effective interventions target the children, their parents, other family members, and family interactions. Download our MDFR Fact Sheet.

MDFR Counselors:

  • Facilitate engagement and retention in substance use and mental health treatment for parents.
  • Provide access to developmental, educational, and medical services for the children.
  • Enhance parent’s involvement in their children’s well-being
  • Promote emotional attachment and bonding between parents and their children.
  • Improve parenting skills including co-parenting and parental teamwork.
  • Reinforce skills and competencies parents learn in substance use or mental health counseling.
  • Repair relationships between the parent(s) and other family members.
  • Increase involvement of other positive family members in the children’s lives.
  • Improve parent and family communication, conflict resolution and problem-solving skills.
  • Do whatever it takes to strengthen the family to care for the children.

Three studies, two of them randomized clinical trials, have examined MDFR outcomes, with strong results. One ongoing randomized clinical trial funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services is currently testing the effectiveness of MDFR in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Click here to watch a brief introduction to MDFR, presented by Gayle Dakof, Ph.D.

Click here to watch a brief introduction on Recovery Management Checkups and Support (RMCS). RMCS will be provided alongside MDFR to families in the state of Connecticut through an innovative and collaborative project administered by DCF. 



  1. Dakof, G. A., Quille, T. J., Tejeda, M. J., Alberga, L. R., Bandstra, Szapocznik, J. (2003). Enrolling and retaining mothers of substance exposed infants in drug abuse treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(4), 764-772.
  2. Dakof, G. A., Cohen, J. B., & Duarte, E. (2009). Increasing family reunification for substance-abusing mothers and their children: Comparing two drug court interventions in Miami. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 60(4), 11-23.
  3. Dakof, G. A., Cohen, J. B., Henderson, C. E., Duarte, E., Boustani, M., Blackburn, A.,… Hawes, S. (2010). A randomized pilot study of the Engaging Moms Program for family drug court. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 38, 263-274.
  4. Cohen, J. B., Dakof, G. A., & Duarte, E. (2011). Dependency drug court: An intensive intervention for traumatized mothers and young children. In J. D. Osofsky (Ed.) Clinical Work with Traumatized Young Children (pp. 252-268).  New York: The Guilford Press.