New court aims to treat whole person

Published 8:03 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The newly formed Troup County Family Dependency Court conducted interviews with applicants yesterday.

The family dependency court program is a branch of the Troup County Dependency Court, and the new program focuses on parents who are simultaneously battling addiction. The dependency court program has already had some success in Troup County by reducing reoffender rates. The program’s organizers hope the new program will restore families in a timelier manner then was previously possible.

“Research shows that children get reunited with their families quicker in Family Treatment Court than in traditional dependency court,” Judge Michael Key said. “The pretty obvious reason for that is we have more intensive treatment, more oversite, but also I can return that child to mom or to dad or both in some cases with more confidence around safety. We still have this system wrapped around them, so I’m not as worried about if the child is safe with mom when she is going to treatment almost every day, when we are educating the whole family around drugs, when we are drug screening not less than twice a week, and we are supposed to be doing it three times at least one week a month.”

The program will provide more support than similar programs due to the focus of the court and the state funding that goes toward the program. This support helps guarantee to the court that a child returned to their parents will be safe because of the combination of peer accountability, testing and official oversite.

“Services are more extensive then (the Department of Family and Children Services) could afford to provide,” Key said.

The Family Dependency Court attempts to focus on the whole person in order to help those entering the program develop the skills and create an environment that will allow them to recover.

“The reason for (requiring participants to get a GED) is to help them achieve the credentials so that they can get a better job,” Family Dependency Court Coordinator Denise Robinson said. “It is for self-esteem purposes. Every person that fights to get their GED, it is a whole new world. They are able to get themselves out of what they’ve only ever known from a career perspective.”

Robinson also said the confidence participants in similar programs gain by earning their GEDs often helps them succeed in other areas of life.

The program is not easy though, and Robinson and Key both stated that participants would be those who have already reached rock bottom in their lives. The court will focus primarily on individuals of moderate risk levels, meaning those who would most likely be unable to recover from addiction and regain custody of their children without assistance, but who will not derail other program participant’s progress.

Family Treatment Court is funded primarily through grant funding from the State of Georgia with a 10 percent match from Troup County. The Board of Commissioners has voiced its support of the work that the courts are doing to decrease reoffender rates during past meetings.