The Allen Superior Court has recognized the downfalls of the opioid epidemic that fall on families and the children of parents with addiction.
“Since 2013 our numbers have doubled with respect to families who are involved in the system as a result of drug abuse and substance abuse.” Magistrate Sherry Hartzler said.
They are launching a new Family Recovery Court, which will provide a new tool for those families and guardians struggling with substance abuse, which will offer a special opportunity to provide unique treatment and more frequent contact with the families and cases including abuse and neglect.
The Family Recovery Court will work in 3 phases of treatment:
- detoxification from drugs and alcohol
- education or employment and coping skills to prevent relapse
- maintenance of safe, stable housing.
Last year alone, 749 Children in Need of Services cases were filed in the Allen County Superior Court. It’s estimated that 85% of those cases were involving a parent or guardian struggling with drug addiction.
“We’re hoping that the kids will be home with their families much sooner, after removal if it’s necessary, so they’ll continue with that bonding and being at home with their families which is where they truly need to be if they are safe and have a stable and loving home.” Alexys Vosmeier, local office Director for Allen County DCS said.
With the traditional model, families involved would come to court as infrequently as every 6 months, and because of the infrequency and gap in service, other issues arise such as domestic violence, mental health issues, unemployment and homlessness. With the new Family Recovery Court, families are seen on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis, depending on stage of recovery.
“We’re hoping that with the more frequent engagement with the family members that we have more one on one contact with them, they’re meeting with their service providers more often, they’re in court more often, we’re keeping a better eye on their progress, we are kind of cheering them along, and helping them achieve their sobriety.” Vosmeier said.
Judge Charles Pratt recognizes that keeping a child in a dangerous home for too long is also a reason for more frequent visits, keeping up on the situation.
“We have all experienced cases that have been on our individual case load where the mothers and the fathers have perished, have died due to overdoses or other addicition related problems during the course of the life of the case so if nothing else we need to intensify our responses for those people as well because we have people dying in this community.” Pratt said.
Allen County’s family recovery court will only be the 8th certified FRC in indiana at this time.