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16th Judicial District to start Family Recovery Court

Thursday, September 22, 2016

LA JUNTA, Colo. – A new Family Recovery Court set to launch this month in the 16th Judicial District (Bent, Crowley and Otero counties) is designed to help parents and children involved in dependency and neglect actions to safely reunify.

In the new problem solving court, families with a dependency and neglect action related to a parent’s ongoing substance abuse or addiction problem will have access to alcohol and drug counseling, parenting and life-skills education and other related treatment and rehabilitation services.

In Otero County alone, more than half of referrals accepted by the county’s Department of Human Services involved allegations of drug use. Of the allegations that were substantiated, nearly 85 percent confirmed drug use was a contributing factor of the abuse or neglect.

“Dependency and neglect issues that are coupled with substance abuse disorders need to be viewed as a community concern,” said JC Carrica, chief operating officer of Southeast Health Group, a treatment provider participating in the program. “It is imperative that the social services departments, judicial, treatment agencies, and legal counsel all work together to support families trying to achieve sobriety and safe, healthy home environments.”

Cases referred to the court by social services agencies will be screened for eligibility by a team that includes a judicial officer, court coordinator, social services caseworkers and support staff, substance abuse/addiction treatment counselors and support staff, and attorneys involved in dependency and neglect cases within the jurisdiction. Eligible participants must agree to the program’s terms and conditions to be included.

Participants in the Family Recovery Court will be required to comply with a child-safety plan and treatment plan developed by social services caseworkers and treatment providers. They also must participate in treatment sessions, meet with caseworkers and skills coaches, attend parenting and other classes, undergo frequent random substance testing and appear in court for regular review hearings.

As in other problem solving courts in Colorado, participants will have incentives for positive behaviors and success in treatment and other court-ordered requirements, while noncompliance may be sanctioned by the Court.

Children’s best interests and safety are the paramount concerns of the program and will be actively monitored by the Court team. Monitoring will include frequent in-home visits and random drug and alcohol testing as well as any other measures deemed necessary and appropriate.

As of February 2016, there were 77 problem solving courts operating in 20 of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts. Those programs include adult and juvenile drug courts, DUI courts, adult and juvenile mental health courts, family and dependency/neglect courts and veteran treatment courts.

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