Janice Taylor, 41, graduated last week from Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court’s Family Drug Court, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The program has helped rebuild the ravaged self-esteem of many women — and a few men — who have had their children taken away and has reunified families faster than have traditional court and child-welfare methods, studies report. Participants are mostly women who have lost custody of their children because of drug abuse. They are selected by a team of social workers and lawyers who look for those who have not had success through traditional child-welfare programs. For some, it’s a final chance to get their kids back.
Participants must remain sober for at least six months. Judge Kristin Sweeney said the idea is to eliminate the adversarial nature of traditional court custody proceedings. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati are studying the program and trying to identify how to make it stronger. So far, they can’t say that the majority of participants enrolled are successful, but the ones who succeed are reunited with their children more quickly. Federal studies from the first decade of drug courts say they saved money because participants have fewer trips through the criminal-justice system after completing a program.