OLYMPIA -- It is estimated that nearly 6 million children live with at least one parent who abuses alcohol or other drugs. Studies indicate that between one-third and two-thirds of child maltreatment cases involve substance use to some degree.
Families in which one or both parents have substance use disorders, and particularly families with an addicted parent, often experience an array of serious complicating factors, such as mental illness, unemployment, high levels of stress, and impaired family functioning. This makes it very difficult for parents to identify and engage in therapeutic services that can point them in the direction of becoming safe, nurturing parents and have their children returned to their care in a timely manner. Further complicating this journey for parents is the Adoption and Safe Families Act which requires the initiation of termination of parental rights proceedings for children who have been in foster care for 18 of the previous 22 months.
The Family Dependency Treatment Court (FDTC) in Thurston County, under new leadership of The Honorable Judge Anne Hirsch, is designed to address child abuse and neglect cases using the drug court model for parents involved with alcohol and/or drug addictions.
Operating out of a single courtroom with a dedicated judge and assigned staff from the Department of Children and Family Services, as well as a team of treatment professionals, case management and legal support, FDTC provides a coherent, integrated response to the needs of substance addicted parents and their children.
Key components of the program include:
- Speed of enrollment of eligible parents into required services;
- Rigorous accountability with parental compliance in all services;
- Informed decisions: The Court has the ability to make informed decisions regarding the placement of children;
- Enhanced coordination: The Court improves service delivery by exchanging comprehensive, accurate and timely information about parents and their children with Department of Children and Family Services who is responsible for monitoring parents and investigating the placement of children.
There will be a detailed overview of this therapeutic program by Judge Anne Hirsch and Marcy Brown, FDTC Coordinator on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 from 12:15-1:15 pm in Courtroom 2 at the Family and Juvenile Court located at 2801 32nd Avenue SW, Tumwater, WA 98512.