Atlantic Judicial Circuit Family Treatment Court
What is Family Treatment Court?
The Atlantic Judicial Circuit Family Treatment Court was established in 2018 under the leadership of Juvenile Court Judge Linnie L. Darden, III. Family Treatment Court is a civil accountability court designed to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect through monitored service delivery and ongoing expedited permanency planning. We strive to insure the safety and well-being of children and facilitate continued family reunification. The 18-24 month program provides participants with intensive outpatient dependency treatment that is supervised by the judge. The primary mission of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit Family Treatment Court is to improve the lives of children and their families by addressing the dependency resulting from substance abuse of a parent or caregiver.
Goals and Objectives
AJC Family Treatment Court is a program that is designed to meet the comprehensive needs of families whom have substance abuse and dependency issues. The goals and objectives of the program are:
• The program will address substance abuse and neglect in an attempt to break multigenerational cycles.
• The program will target permanency for children exposed to parental substance abuse.
• The program will coordinate specialized services for children exposed to parental substance abuse.
• The program will facilitate quick entry into treatment for targeted families.
• The program will retain targeted families in treatment for a significant time.
• The program participants will live a lifestyle that is free of drugs and alcohol.
• The program will strive to reduce criminal thinking, through the use of evidence based programs.
• The program will provide participants the opportunity to enhance parental capacity.
• The program will strive to reduce out of home and foster care placements.
• The program will promote community stakeholders to conscientiously work together.
• The program will comply with the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA)
The AJC Family Treatment Court program is a minimum of 18 months. This length of treatment has been found effective to reduce recidivism and break the cycle of addiction; creating healthy parents. The length of the program does not dictate the timeline of the reunification plan, rather participant compliance and progress. The program is structured to be congruent to the participant’s treatment services. Treatment and the AJC Family Treatment Court program work together to format a treatment plan for recovery. Each phase progression is subject to compliance with rules and progress towards treatment goals, pursuant to individual treatment and case plans. Phase progression is meant to coordinate with the treatment provider, as closely as possible, however, in some instances of slower progression, phase requirements in treatment and the program may not be congruent.
The AJC Family Treatment Court has a target population for those who meet the Eligibility Criteria for the FTC Program.
• Must have your case be in the Juvenile Court of one of the following Counties: Liberty and Long County, Georgia.
• Must be a legal and primary caretaker of a child involved with DFCS (foster care or family preservation).
• Must have dependency allegations arising from substance abuse or dependence.
• Cannot be the perpetrator or co-conspirator of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse of a child.
• Cannot be the perpetrator of a serious violent crime (record history verified through county agencies).
• Cannot have medical or psychological conditions that would interfere with their ability to engage in treatment.
• Cannot have chronic or terminal medical conditions requiring extensive medical treatment.
• Cannot have legal circumstances that would interfere with their ability to engage in treatment.
Who is eligible to participate in AJC Family Treatment Court?
Candidates who want to be a part of the AJC Family Treatment Court program are required to have an open dependency case within Liberty and Long County, must be the legal caretaker of the child(ren) involved with DFCS and must have dependency allegations arising from substance abuse.
Certain legal factors may exclude one from being eligible for the Family Treatment program. These Factors include:
Cannot be the perpetrator or co-conspirator of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse of a child;
Cannot be the perpetrator of a serious violent crime;
Cannot have medical or psychological conditions that would interfere with ability to engage in treatment;
Cannot have chronic or terminal medical conditions requiring extensive medical treatment;
Cannot have legal circumstance that would interfere with their ability to engage in treatment;
Are there costs or fees associated with participating in AJC Family Treatment Court?
AJC Family Treatment Court participants are required to pay a $1,500.00 program fee over the course of the program, which is equivalent to paying $23.00 per week.
How does a AJC Family Treatment Court case differ from a DFCS case?
Participants of AJC Family Treatment Court (hereinafter referred to as FTC), get additional services, support and accountability. FTC cases are reviewed with the judge bi-weekly, whereas a traditional case may only get reviewed every few months. Participants have an opportunity to speak with the judge, their attorney, their DFCS case manager, and other service agencies, and they are held accountable for the services they provide and complete their case plan in a timelier manner. FTC builds a support network for its participants utilizing the 12-15 professionals that comprise the FTC team including members from CASA, DFCS, Recovery Place Inc., and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. In addition, FTC provides support for recovery via frequent drug screening (at least 2 times a week compared to once a month for regular DFCS cases), community policing, and the use of therapeutic incentives and sanctions to modify behavior.