Families involved in the child welfare system and affected by parental substance use disorders face a difficult journey towards achieving their recovery and reunification goals. Family Treatment Courts (FTCs) provide a pathway for achieving positive outcomes through interagency collaboration, coordinated and comprehensive service delivery, effective drug testing and enhanced accountability. Family Treatment Courts demonstrably improve child welfare outcomes and promote recovery. These outcomes include higher rates of participation and longer stays in substance use disorder treatment, higher rates of family reunification, and reductions in length of stay for children in out-of-home-placement.
In the FTC model, a multidisciplinary team assembled by the court meets to review each case and to coordinate service plans, monitor progress and take corrective actions when necessary. Well-functioning FTCs draw information and support from all system partners to address the specific needs of a family. The team, in addition to the legal professionals, may include SUD treatment providers, child welfare caseworkers, mental health professionals, social services agency staff, child/youth service providers, and domestic violence prevention program staff. The team works with the family to identify strengths and to devise a case plan that addresses the needs of both parent(s) and child(ren). The team meets regularly with the parent(s) to coordinate services and assess progress, providing regular opportunities to address challenges. The team communicates information to the monitoring judge in a timely fashion.
In New York, parents voluntarily enter the program and agree to increased court participation, SUD treatment, intensive case management and, in many cases, peer support. The FTC team agrees to help both parents and their children to navigate systemic barriers that parents face, such as securing safe housing, adequate medical care, and children and youth services. The team can also facilitate family/parenting time and promote access to evidence-based parenting services.
The Division of Policy and Planning supports the existing Family Treatment Courts and assists with the development of new Family Treatment Courts. New Family Treatment Court initiatives include applying the FTC National Standards and implementing a statewide strategic plan for Family Treatment Courts.
For further information on Problem-Solving Courts or if you would like to schedule a court visit, please contact the Division of Policy and Planning at: ProblemSolving@nycourts.gov.