Baltimore Judge Martin Welch has taken away many babies from addicts like them, says the Washingtron Post. Stacy Coleman, 28, is a high school dropout. Keith Cromwell, 41, has had many jobs, a quiet man who struggles with his temper. He started drinking young, got into heroin, then crack. Their daughter, Keyona Angel Cromwell, was born last year. Coleman tested positive for cocaine; the baby was placed in foster care.
Coleman and Cromwell are among the first parents to take part in the Family Recovery Program, part of a growing movement of family drug courts. They want their baby back and know that conquering their addictions is the only way to do that. This is an experimental court. Welch is one of the first judges in the region empowered to order addicted parents into immediate drug treatment with the goal of limiting their children’s stay in the foster system. Last year, government, business, and philanthropic leaders announced the Maryland Opportunity Compact, a public-private initiative that earmarked $2.5 million to start the Family Recovery Program. When the state takes a child from an addicted parent, the judge refers the parent to the program. A caseworker assesses the addict’s needs and places the parent in a waiting slot for a drug treatment program paid for by the court. In the first year, 185 people were referred to the program; 81 followed through to receive some treatment.