Family Dependency Treatment Court (FDTC)

The Family Dependency Treatment Court (FDTC) program is designed to break the cycle of addiction and neglect through monitored service delivery, through ongoing and expedited permanency planning. The FDTC uses a team approachThe Family Dependency Treatment Court (FDTC) program is designed to break the cycle of addiction and neglect through monitored service delivery, through ongoing and expedited permanency planning. The FDTC uses a team approach to working with deprivation cases. The team works to provide a highly structured and coordinated approach to treat the parents’ disease of substance abuse. It simultaneously addresses parenting deficits while holding parents accountable for their choices.  The primary mission of the Family Dependency Treatment Court is to improve the lives of children and their families by addressing the deprivation resulting from substance abuse of a parent or care giver. This mission is carried out by addressing the comprehensive needs of parents and children through an integrated, court-based, and multi-disciplinary team approach which strives to achieve timely decisions, coordinated treatment and ancillary services, judicial oversight, and safe and permanent placements.

Since its inception in 2008, the FDTC has served 45 parents with long-term chronic and severe drug use.  These participants have 132 biological children and seven grandchildren whose lives were positively affected by their parent’s progress in the program. Program goals to improve the lives of deprived children include: facilitating quick entry into treatment for targeted families, retaining targeted families in treatment for a significant time, helping program participants live a lifestyle that is free of drugs and alcohol, promoting community stakeholders to conscientiously work together, and complying with elements of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA).

The FDTC parents are required to complete intensive drug/alcohol treatment, follow all treatment recommendations including attending individual, group, family, marriage and or residential treatment  as recommended, attend 1-3 AA  sessions weekly, provide 2-5  random observed drug/alcohol times a week, attend weekly court sessions and complete weekly goals, receive unannounced visits from a specially trained Community Policing Team, complete parenting classes and 2 family education programs, provide appropriate and stable housing, request and review personal credit report, develop a sustainable budget, document an emergency fund,  complete a resume, cover letter, and referral document while seeking employment and documenting efforts until 35-40 hours of work has been obtained, attend all scheduled visitation and demonstrate healthy parenting skills

On June 26th at the 2012 Georgia Accountability Court Conference held in Atlanta GA, NPC Research, a company providing research-based information to guide public policy and a leading authority in Accountability Courts, recognized the Chatham County Family Dependency Treatment Court (FDTC), led by the Honorable Patricia P. Stone, as “Top Family Court” in the State of GA with the highest number of research-based best practices. 

Additionally, the Chatham County FDTC has been selected as a finalist in an application to be a Family Drug Court Peer Learning Court, a court selected nationally as a model program.

The members of the FDTC team have previously received numerous individual awards in their fields for their work with the FDTC. Previous awards include:

  • The 2009 Leadership Award at the 10th Annual Child Placement Conference in Athens, GA was awarded to The Honorable Patricia P. Stone (FDTC Judge). This award is given annually to an individual, in the public or the private sector, who demonstrates outstanding vision for change and leadership in advocating for children and families served by the GA foster care and juvenile justice systems.
  • WJCL's Champion for Change 2009 was awarded to the Honorable Patricia P. Stone for her continuing work as the presiding Judge for the FDTC.
  • The 2009 Case Manager of the Year Award at the 10th Annual Child Placement Conference in Athens, GA was awarded to Yolanda Parker (FDTC designated case manager). This award is given to a case manager that made outstanding contributions to the field of social services.
  • The 2010 Child Advocate Award from the State Bar of GA Young Lawyers Division Juvenile Law Committee in the category of Deprivation- Legal Advocate was awarded to Leo Beckmann, Jr. (FDTC S.A.A.G.) in recognition of his demonstrated commitment and service, above and beyond the call of duty, to children and families in GA.
  • The 2010 Juvenile Court Attorney of the Year from the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children was awarded to J. Michael Love (FDTC parent attorney) in recognition of his demonstrated outstanding commitment to children and families in Georgia.

To date, the FDTC has secured grant funding in 10 separate awards totaling $540,000. These funds were and are utilized to assist the county in the development and implementation of the FDTC, provide individual counseling and case management for participants, provide assistance with the lingering legal issues that inhibited the parents’ ability to progress, organize and implement the Community Policing Team, provide specialized training for the Community Policing and the FDTC Team, and implement 2 ongoing evidenced-based programs:

1) Celebrating Families is a program from the National Association of Children of Alcoholics for families in early recovery. Families affected by chemical dependency have unhealthy family rules such as: don’t talk, don’t trust, and don’t feel that have been passed down for generations. Many have false beliefs that they caused the disease, can cure the disease, and/or can control the disease. Celebrating Families examines how families are affected by chemical dependency and teaches skills to break those patterns.

2) Strengthening Families is an evidenced-based SAMSHA program, for families in recovery to teach healthy family functional skills such as improving behavior, increasing communication, decreasing overt aggression, and preventing child drug use.

The programs are taught in sequence and begin with a family meal, followed by an age appropriate break-out session, and then a family based processing group. Additionally, the FDTC clients receive assistance from the community through donations of furniture, household goods, training space, and food items.

According to a 2002 Office of Justice Program study, the estimated costs related to the birth of a drug and/or alcohol exposed baby between $962,500 and $1,787,500 in today’s dollars. The Chatham County FDTC has had 9 drug-free babies to date for a total estimated cost savings between $8.6 million and $16 million dollars.

For more information on the FDTC program, please contact Joni Strange at (912) 652-6915 or at jlstrange@chathamcounty.org.

 
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