a non-adversarial collaborative approach, the court, DFCS and treatment providers come together to determine the individual needs of substance abusing parents. The FDTC team works together to help parents overcome their addictions and address the circumstances that led to the removal of their child to foster reunification within AFSA timelines. When reunification plans fail, the team quickly changes gears to establish permanency for the child. Since 42% of the cold cases involved parental substance abuse as a contributing factor for entering care, many families would be candidates for FDTC participation.
Research demonstrates the success of family dependency treatment courts. They are successful in getting parents to enter and remain in drug treatment, and demonstrate significant decreases in drug use among participants.33 Outcome evaluations show other promising benefits such as increased employment, receipt of mental health treatment services, and increases in the number of drug-free babies born to program females.34 FDTCs also save money. Treatment success is improved because participants begin treatment early and have the support of the court team throughout their recovery. Their children have shorter stays in foster care. One study found a 58% cost savings with the FDTC model compared to the traditional family welfare court model.35 Preliminary research on Georgia’s FDTCs suggests that they are also meeting with success. Georgia should expand the Family Dependency Treatment Court model around the state so that more substance abusing parents can have access to services.