Allen County Superior Court will launch a new project this week to provide resources for families struggling with substance abuse.
Family Recovery Court, or FRC, will be funded through a $15,400 grant from the Indiana Supreme Court and will be run by the Allen County Superior Court’s Family Relations Division. The Allen County FRC is one of eight certified Family Recovery Courts in Indiana.
Entry into FRC is voluntary. The program aims to provide more consistent guidance for parents or guardians whose substance issues are central to the family entering the court system.
Administrative Judge of the Family Division Judge Charles F. Pratt said drug abuse and addiction have an enormous impact on the community and are usually a the center of child abuse and neglect cases that enter the courts system.
“The vast majority of these cases involve parents and guardians with substance abuse issues. Breaking the cycle and helping families recover demands a new way of doing business,” Pratt said.
Allen County reported more than 800 cases of allegations of child abuse and neglect in 2017, and more than 700 cases in 2018 against parents or guardians.These cases are known as CHINS cases, or “Children In Need of Services.” The court estimates 85% of those cases involve parents with some form of drug addiction. Cases for FRC will be selected from CHINS cases.
Traditionally, families involved in CHINS cases appear in court every six months. Because of the nature of the cases, families struggling with substance abuse might take too long to get enrolled and engaged in drug treatment services due to the long lapses in supervision.
Court officials noted, “Infrequent supervision is especially problematic in light of the multiple issues faced by the majority of FRC participants, such as domestic violence, mental health issues, homelessness, unemployment and lack of healthy support systems.”
The FRC model addresses the long gaps in supervision by requiring those in the program to appear before a judicial officer on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis, depending on recovery progress. Magistrate Sherry Hartzler will primarily hear Allen County FRC cases. .
The FRC includes three phases of treatment:
- Detoxification from Drugs and Alcohol
- Education/Employment & Coping Skills to Prevent Relapse
- Maintenance of Safe/Stable Housing & Development/Maintenance of the Recovery Environment
Allen County’s FRC has received provisional certification by the Indiana Office of Court Services. It was modeled after Grant County’s RFC.