Family Treatment Court

Hon. John F. Lambert

History of the Otsego County Family Treatment Court and Mission Statement

The Otsego County Family Treatment Court commenced operations in 2001 with Brian D. Burns presiding. The Otsego County Family Treatment Court’s mission is to provide for the health, safety, and stable home environment of children whose caretakers have substance abuse issues and are involved in neglect proceedings through Family Court.

Swifter Court Process: Adjudication and Disposition

Once you have agreed to participate in the Otsego County Family Treatment Court, you will sign an admission in court. An Order of Adjudication is a court finding that your children are found to be neglected because of your alcohol and/or other substance abuse. Not all Otsego County Family Treatment Court cases have findings. An Order of Disposition outlines the length of the court order, the role of the Family Treatment Court Treatment Team, and your responsibilities as a participant in the program. The order is initially for twelve months, but it can be extended if needed. Your admission allows for the court process to take less time. It also enables the court to link you with services to meet identified needs. Once an order is entered, the Family Treatment Court Treatment Team will monitor your case. You must continue to abide by all court orders and expectations. As your case progresses, frequent court appearances (averaging twice per month) will allow Family Treatment Court to make necessary changes in your treatment and service plans. Examples of these changes are referrals to new services or changes in visitation with children. You must comply with any changes made by the court. Throughout the process, the treatment team encourages you to voice questions and/or concerns regarding the legalities of the program with your attorney. 

Program Phases

Phase I – The focus of this phase is to encourage your choice to work toward and alcohol and drug free life and establish a solid foundation for recovery. The goals in this phase are to obtain financial assistance, receive necessary medical care, enter a substance abuse treatment program, achieve sobriety, and completion of evaluation to determine the need for additional services. In addition to the goals listed above, you will also set goals for improving parenting skills, education, employment, life skills, and independent living. Achieving these goals will improve interactions with your children and help to eliminate all possible risks and dangers to your children. 

Phase II – The focus of this phase is to stabilize your treatment and challenge you to confront issues surrounding your addiction, it’s impact on your family, and to help you develop a meaningful and long-lasting recovery program. The goals of this phase are continued abstinence and development of tools for use in maintaining sobriety, continued improvement with children, progression toward established educational/vocational/employment goals. Other goals include identification of additional needs and development of a plan to access services, evidence of improved parenting practices and strategies, and no further neglect and/or abuse issues. 

Phase III – The focus of this phase is to promote you continued change toward self-sufficiency while reconnection with the community at large. The goals of this phase are to consistently use and develop tools to avoid relapse, continue developing coping and parenting skills, complete vocational/educational goals, obtain stable employment and income, demonstrate improved involvement with family and community. Also, if your children are in foster care, complete preparation for your children to be returned to your care. The most important goal, which makes all the other goals possible, is to continue alcohol and drug free living and parenting.