Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Anne Hacker


Veterans treatment courts (VTCs) and agencies that work with veterans experiencing posttraumatic stress and substance use disorders have been unable to provide evidence-based treatment that includes veterans' families in recovery and treatment. This limitation has resulted in treatment gaps that appear to have had an adverse impact on veterans and their families. The purpose of this qualitative content analysis was to examine the formulation of AB 2371, a 2012 legislative amendment to California code PC 1170.9, and evaluate whether lawmakers considered family-oriented treatment in passing the amendment. Schneider and Ingram's theory of social construction of target populations constituted the theoretical foundation. The focus of the central research question was on the consideration given during the formulation and implementation of AB 2371 that resulted in exclusion of families from eligibility for treatment in VTCs. Data consisted of publicly available documents from 4 years before and 2 years after enactment of AB 2371. Data were collected and analyzed in a manner consistent with Dunn's policy analysis framework. Data were analyzed through selective coding using a continuous, iterative process and were critically evaluated to determine whether legislative and administrative considerations may have affected the social construct of care for veterans and their families. Findings show that children and families were not considered in the initial policy inputs related to the formulation of AB 2371. A recommendation stemming from this study includes advising policy makers, VTCs, and service providers to support the inclusion of families and children in the VTC service matrix, which may result in positive social change by improving recovery and treatment for veterans.