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Family Dependency Treatment Courts: Addressing Child Abuse and Neglect Cases Using the Drug Court Model

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2004
84 pages
This report documents the ideas, discussions, and conclusions of the 1999 focus group on the concept of the family dependency treatment court (FDTC), which is a court that hears cases of child abuse and neglect that involve substance abuse by the parents or other caregivers.
The focus group explored the pros and cons of various approaches to the development and operation of FDTC's, formulated a mission and overall goals for the court, and took initial steps toward developing a national strategy for advancing the FDTC concept. The group also considered a broader perspective on FDTC's, as it explored their place within the American justice system as a whole. The FDTC structure was compared to both the adult drug court model and the traditional family (dependency) court model, as it clarified the FDTC's origins, special characteristics, and distinctive role. Following the 1999 focus group, a number of projects related to training, technical assistance, and evaluation were begun to help jurisdictions develop and implement FDTC's. One chapter describes the resources available to jurisdictions through these projects. Fourteen recommendations offered by the focus group identify elements of a national strategy for validating and advancing the FDTC movement. One recommendations is to set minimum standards for FDTC's by which they can be defined and judged. Other recommendations are to develop gender-specific treatment and longer treatment programs, as well as effective aftercare programs that will keep graduates on paths to recovery. Recommendations for implementation include the provision of interdisciplinary cross-training for FDTC team members at the local level; realign resources for service delivery, education, and outreach; form collaborations of national organizations around dependency issues; recognize the distinctions between civil and criminal FDTC's in making program plans; and establish measurements and basic data elements to evaluate FDTC's. Appended supplementary program descriptions and recommendations for research and evaluation and 15 references

Date Created: February 10, 2005