Allen Superior Court launching substance abuse program

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – A court-based program launching this week aims to provide local families with a new way to address substance abuse cases involving children.

Family Recovery Court is a project of the Allen Superior Court’s Family Relations Division. It will begin hearing cases on Thursday, when it becomes the eighth program of its kind to begin operations in Indiana.

The FRC will implement a three-phase approach to treatment, centered on:

  • Detoxification from Drugs and Alcohol
  • Education/Employment & Coping Skills to Prevent Relapse
  • Maintenance of Safe/Stable Housing & Development/Maintenance of the Recovery Environment
Magistrate Sherry Hartzler

“For our community to heal from the substance abuse epidemic that we’re experiencing, we must rehabilitate people caring for children and break the cycle of abuse and addiction,” said Magistrate Sherry Hartzler, who will oversee most cases. “The outcome for children is much better if we rehabilitate their parents. If we don’t take proactive steps, this endless cycle that’s costing our community so much will go on forever.”

It is estimated that 85% of CHINS cases involve parents or guardians struggling with drug addiction.

“Drug abuse and addiction have an enormous impact on so many aspects of our community, including cases of child abuse and neglect,” said Judge Charles F. Pratt, Administrative Judge of the Family Division. “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.”

The new court will work closely with community partners to provide addiction treatment, mental health, education and health care, officials said. Team members can include the judge or magistrate, public defender, the Indiana Department of Child Services, guardians ad litem and treatment and service providers.

Funding comes from the Indiana Supreme Court, which provided a $15,400 grant that will help launch the program and sustain it through this September.

Other Family Recovery Courts are in Bartholomew, Clark, Grant, Marion, Noble, Vanderburgh and Wabash counties.

Jonathan Shelley

Jonathan Shelley

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