Feds Award Family Drug Court Treatment Program $2.1 Million To Expand
The federal government has granted the Montgomery County Family Treatment Court additional funding to expand services for families affected by the opioid crisis. The $2.1 million, five-year funding grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will allow the court to expand those services to as many as 75 parents and 34 children a year, officials say.
“People may say that doesn’t sounds like a lot but believe me, these are tough cases,” said Juvenile Court Judge Tony Capizzi, who oversees the program. “The reality is if we save one family, the money is worth it.”
Capizzi says the expansion will allow more families touched by addiction to stay together.
“Children Services has done a fantastic job of matching up children with home when necessary, but the goal isn’t to have that happen. The goal is to keep these children with their families.”
The central mission of the court program is to improve the safety and wellbeing of children whose parents are going through drug and alcohol treatment.
In 2016, the Family Treatment Court was one of three nationwide recipients of a $600,000, three-year grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Judge Capizzi announced the program expansion in a press briefing outside his court chambers on Thursday. He was joined by representatives from Montgomery County Job and Family Services, and South Community Behavioral Health Center.
Job and Family Services Assistant Director of Children Services Division, Jewell Good, says that in early 2017, of the 370 children who entered JFS care in Montgomery County, 310 of those cases involved parental drug use, and 139 of those families specifically used heroin or other opiates.
"If that doesn't speak to the issue that we're dealing with as a child protection system, I honestly don't know what would," she says.
"The impact on the system has been devastating. Children-services agencies throughout the state are struggling to find homes for these kids who are often babies, who just really need a loving family environment, either temporarily while the parent recovers from addiction, or permanently when the parent has died from an overdose or simply cannot beat the addiction."
Carol Smerz is CEO of the South Community Inc. behavioral health center. She says the additional funding for the Family Treatment Court will go a long way towards keeping children out of group placement.
"We know that any children that are able to stay in their stable environment can be able to succeed and improve," she said.
The full spectrum of services offered by the Montgomery County Family Treatment Court include links to drug and alcohol treatment programs, housing assistance and other support services that aim to offer stability to the children in affected families.