Summit County Juvenile Court Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio announced today that the Court will receive a three-year, $538,363 grant from the federal government to introduce a specialized docket, the Family Drug Court, to the growing menu of Court services, in conjunction with Summit County Children Services.
The collaboration is intended to re-unite and stabilize family units through the provision of suitable intensive treatment and intervention for families who have had their children removed as a result of substance abuse or when it has been determined to be a major contributing factor to the children’s removal. Support and services for both the parents and the children for other issues such as poverty, mental health and trauma will also be offered to those families who choose to engage in the program.
The Court learned on September 16th that the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention approved the grant application. The funding period begins October 1, 2013. The Family Drug Court will partner with a regional initiative comprised of major county and statewide child-and-family service providers that is funded by the Administration on Children & Families, a division of the United States Department of Health & Human Services. The program is called the Summit County Collaborative on Trauma, Alcohol & Other Drug & Resiliency-Building Services, or the STARS Program.
The STARS Program aims to improve child and family outcomes and uses a coordinated system of care which includes trauma-informed assessment and family strengthening services. The long-term goal is to permanently re-unite the family, but important steps will be taken in the process to assure that the challenges facing the parents and children are appropriately addressed before permanent re-unification occurs. The Family Drug Court will work closely with the STARS Program to identify potential candidates for the Family Drug Court docket.
The allocation from the Department of Justice will be used, in part, to fund the salaries of a Family Drug Court Coordinator and an additional Summit County Children Services (SCCS) Social Work Assistant. The Family Drug Court Coordinator will make reports to the Court, assure that the Court is in compliance with the conditions of the grant and coordinate the Drug Court docket. SCCS will create a Substance Intervention Unit through reassignment of qualified individuals currently providing services at SCCS and provide them with additional training. The unit will consist of a supervisor, five caseworkers and a newly hired Social Work Assistant position to support the caseworkers’ efforts. Remaining funds will be used for rigorous drug/alcohol testing costs to ensure treatment compliance and for various supports to be issued as incentives/rewards for program engagement and success. The goal of the Family Drug Court is to serve up to 25 Court-involved families per year.
“We are pleased that the Department of Justice has provided funding that will help us continue our efforts to re-unite families,” said Judge Teodosio. “These grants are difficult to obtain, so we are also honored that our Court was chosen as a recipient. As always, we are grateful to all of our community partners and look forward to working together to serve the best interests of children in Summit County.”