Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
What is Family Treatment Court?
Family Treatment Court (FTC) is a special program designed to help respondents and their children get back together and stay together. This program is designed to service individuals who have a neglect case against them with alcohol or substance abuse allegations. The FTC staff will help the parents recover from alcohol or substance abuse and work toward reuniting parents with their children.
The Family Treatment Court's case management unit has the ability to quickly identify and link addicted parents charged with neglect to appropriate drug treatment programs.
FTC monitors compliance, responds to progress and/or problems through graduated sanctions/rewards, establishes cooperation and communication among agencies involved in the reunification process, assures all information is up-to-date and comprehensive and ultimately seeks to speed the entire court process, enabling the children to return more swiftly to recovered parents or achieve other permanent homes.
How does a Family Treatment Court Case Begin?
Once a person is accused of child neglect and a neglect petition is filed with the Family Court by ACS, a FTC screening clerk determines if substance abuse has been alleged and if the case meets other specific screening criteria for the Treatment Court. Eligible cases are sent immediately to Treatment Court for intake, arraignment and orientation.
There are no filing fees in Family Court.
What cases are eligible for Family Treatment Court?
Child neglect cases where alcohol or substance abuse has been alleged in the petition by the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) meeting the following specific screening criteria: open /pending cases are reviewed on a case by case basis; respondent is over 18 years old, At least one respondent named in the petition must be independently eligible for FTC participation, and respondent's whereabouts must be known. Petition's containing allegations of child abuse, excessive corporal punishment, serious domestic violence, and mental illness are excluded, (except for depression).
What happens at a Fact-Finding Hearing?
When a respondent agrees to participate in the Family Treatment Court Program they make an admission of neglect due to substance abuse and sign the Treatment Court contract, in which they formally agree to the treatment plan and agree to abide by all Treatment Court Rules and Regulations. This appearance constitutes a fact-finding. At this appearance respondents agree to waive their right to petition the court for the immediate return of the children.
What happens at a Case Conference?
Upon admission into the treatment court program, a case conference is held. The respondent's attorney, the child's law guardian, and ACS lawyer and court liaison meet with the clinical staff to implement a treatment plan. The respondent reviews the plan with his or attorney and commences participation in the Treatment Court program for referral of services.
What happens at Court Appearances?
Court appearances in Family Treatment Court are very detailed sessions. Each respondent is tested for alcohol and illicit substances on-site at the treatment court at every court appearance. At each appearance, respondents compliance with treatment and permanency planning for the children will be addressed. Also, the placement, educational status, health and potential service needs of children are reviewed. Existing orders are updated and new orders are drafted. Detailed visitation orders, including time, frequency, location and supervision status are developed and modified regularly in the courtroom.
What happens at a Disposition?
Family Treatment Court dispositional orders can vary widely. Child may be placed in foster care until completion of the first permanency hearing which will be stated in the dispositional order. Some dispositional orders may place the child in foster care granting the agency authority to parole or discharge the child to the parent at some later point and in some cases a dispositional order may release a child to a parent. For noncompliant respondents, dispositional orders will likely place the children in foster care.
What is a Family Treatment Court Graduation?
Respondents who meet all Family Treatment Court requirements and implement a permanency plan for the children that is acceptable to the court will be eligible for graduation. Graduation usually marks the end of Court supervision of the family. However, in many situations, ACS may continue to provide support and services. Also, any family can continue to receive services through the Court's case management unit voluntarily.