Family Drug Court Peer Learning Court Program

Family Drug Courts image


Family Drug Court Peer Learning Court Program

Building on the success of the current Family Drug Court Peer Learning Court program, Children and Family Futures, with the support of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, is pleased to announce the selection of five additional Peer Learning Courts,  expanding the program to nine Family Drug Courts.

Children and Family Futures has identified best practice models by creating mentorship sites across the nation that further the exchange of learning through peer-to-peer technical assistance. Peer Learning Courts host visiting Family Drug Court professionals to experience their court in action and share proven policies, practices and lessons learned. 

The Peer Learning Court Program is part of the range of technical assistance opportunities available through the Center for Children and Family Futures. The courts that have been selected as an FDC Peer Learning Court use sound evidence-supported practices and policies, and demonstrate strong collaboration among the courts, child welfare, substance abuse treatment agencies and others.

To learn more about the FDC Peer Learning Court Program or to visit one of the courts, click here.


The five new Peer Learning Courts are:


Miami Dade County Dependency Drug Court (DDC)

Miami Dade County, Florida

Click here for the full Miami Dade County Dependency Drug Court Profile

The Miami Dade County – Dependency Drug Court (DDC) has been operational since March of 1999 and served as a host site and mentor to emerging Family Drug Courts across the country. An opportunity to continue this kind of work, as a nationally recognized leader in the field, has been afforded to Miami Dade County DDC through an application to serve as a Peer Learning Court through Children and Family Futures (CFF) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). DDC hopes to collaborate with CFF to facilitate learning experiences and offer peer-to-peer technical assistance to Family Drug Courts seeking support.

Judicial and child welfare systems throughout the nation have turned to family drug courts as a possible solution to child maltreatment and substance abuse as a public health problem. The goal of the Miami-Dade County Dependency Drug Court (DDC) is to provide safe, permanent homes to children by helping primary custodians live a drug-free life and assume the full responsibilities of parenthood. Providing effective, evidence-based, interventions and addressing concurrent substance use and child maltreatment problems are essential in accomplishing permanency planning and reoccurrence of child maltreatment. Strong, collaborative partnerships and the employment of shared resources is crucial to the success of any Family Drug Court. In its 15 years of operations, DDC has evolved into a leader in the local and national community and aspires to serve as a Peer Learning Host Site.

Wapello County Treatment Court

Wapello County, Iowa

Click here for the full Wapello County Treatment Court Profile

The Wapello County Treatment Court began in the Spring of 2007 as a collaborative effort between the court system, the department of human services, and substance use treatment providers to implement a community based approach to substance use treatment that supports the family to remain or regain the role as primary parents and caretakers for their children. The objectives of the court are to: 1) Increase the safety, permanency and well-being of children by addressing the substance use treatment programming and service gaps for parents through a community collaborative planning approach; and 2) To create a common vision for each family through a unified case plan and team staffing process designed to address a family’s substance use problems that have resulted in allegations of abuse and neglect and involvement in the child welfare system. Wapello County has a high level of substance use, primarily methamphetamine, but also has a collaborative group willing to develop new and different services and methods to address each family’s unique substance use and child welfare issues. While the majority of the cases comprise families in Wapello County, Iowa, the treatment court accepts cases from five other rural counties in south central Iowa. The majority of the cases are handled using an integrated model with the lead judge also serving as the judge in the underlying child welfare case. The goal of the treatment court is to have parents achieve sobriety and either maintain or regain custody of their children. In addition, the treatment court assists clients to obtain and maintain self-sufficiency by regularly reviewing issues related to mental health, education, employment, housing, transportation and sober support.


King County Family Treatment Center

King County, Washington

Click here for the full King County Family Treatment Center Profile

King County’s Family Treatment Court (KCFTC) has been in operation now for over 10 years. Their goals are to find safe permanent homes for children; ensure families of color have outcomes similar to white families; ensure that parents can better care for themselves and their children and seek the resources to do so and; reduce the cost to society of dependency cases involving chemical dependency. As an established urban court that uses an integrated model of service, KCFTC serves both mothers and fathers who have lost custody of their children due to substance use issues recognizing that most will have a history of complex trauma that impacts not only their sobriety, but their ability to parent effectively, maintain employment, find housing, and access services. In addition to gender responsive and culturally appropriate chemical dependency services, KCFTC contracts with Harborview Sexual Assault and Trauma Center to provide Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and refers all children under age three to receive a developmental assessment through Early Intervention programs countywide. We also work with parents to find appropriate evidenced based parenting interventions such as Parent Child Interaction Therapy, Triple P, Incredible Years, Promoting First Relationships and Parent Child Psychotherapy. The majority of KCFTC parents receive a psychological or neuropsychological evaluation to help identify mental health needs and cognitive functioning delays to assure case management. As noted in the KCFTC 2011 outcome evaluation, we are proven to help parents enter treatment faster, stay in treatment longer and be more successful in treatment. KCFTC children find safe and permanent homes sooner and exit the child welfare system quicker. Families of color in KCFTC not only have better outcomes than families of color in the regular dependency system but have similar outcomes to white families in KCFTC. KCFTC values participating in the Peer Learning Court Program and making program improvements resulting in increased permanency for children and sustainability of a court program shown to reduce disparity in the child welfare system.

Dunklin County Family Treatment Court

Dunklin County, Missouri

Click here for the full Dunklin County Family Treatment Court Profile

The Dunklin County Family Treatment Court began operations in November of 2004. 153 parents have received services including, substance use treatment, mental health services, parenting, anger management, life skills and case management. Case management services include housing, medical/dental, transportation and education, as well as any other necessary referrals. Family members of participants and children of participants have also received services and referrals through the Dunklin County FTC. Of those participants, 50 parents have successfully completed the program. Many of those participants who did not successfully complete the program were successful in achieving reunification. 86 participants have exited the program since January 1, 2008. 34 of those were graduates and 52 non-completions. Of those 86 participants, only 4 have had the children removed again since exiting the program. The FTC was started with the same structure and services as the Dunklin County Adult Criminal Treatment Court. The result was a program with an arbitrary phase structure and timeline that did not match the timelines of the originating family court case. It is a parallel system, and there was little coordination between the courts. Recently, the FTC program has been restructured around the visitation schedule. There are no longer numbered phases with standard requirements. The first phase of the program is the “supervised visits” phase, the second is the “unsupervised visits” phase, and the final phase is the “trial home visit” phase, after which, the family court case is closed and graduation from the FTC occurs. Each family/participant has an individualized plan to meet their needs and goals. The court has found this new structure to be very beneficial to the participants and would like the opportunity to share this as a Peer Learning Court. 


Jefferson County Family Drug Court

Jefferson County, Alabama

Click here for the full Jefferson County Family Drug Court Profile

Initiated in February 2010, the Jefferson County Family Drug Court (FDC) was established to serve drug-involved parents who have lost custody of their children. With the collaboration of the local Department of Human Resources (DHR), Jefferson County Family Court and the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities (UAB TASC), a core clinical team of designated DHR case workers and substance use counselors was formed to offer thorough assessment, multidisciplinary case planning and referrals to partnering service providers (i.e. substance use treatment, parenting, children’s services, counseling, in-home support). Eligibility criteria include a diagnosis of substance use or dependence, children up to the age of 18 years and a willingness to comply with program requirements. Additional qualifying factors vary according to the FDC track. For example, an adjudication of dependency is required by Track 1. It is the mission of the Jefferson County Family Drug Court to create change, rebuild families, and strengthen communities through recovery. Primary program goals include – (1) to decrease the incidence of child abuse and neglect, (2) to assist the parent in becoming emotionally, financially, and personally self-sufficient and to develop parenting and coping skills adequate for serving as an effective parent on a daily basis, (3) to enhance communication and collaboration among the dependency court, defense attorneys, and child protective services, substance use treatment providers, social services and interested community stakeholders, (4) to increase the capacity of courts to intervene with substance involved adults involved with the court as a result of child abuse and neglect issues, (5) to expedite permanency. 


The Continuing Peer Learning Courts are:


Baltimore City Circuit Court, Juvenile Division

Baltimore, Maryland

Click here for the full Baltimore City Family Recover Program Profile

The Baltimore City Family Recovery Program (FRP) has been in operation since August 15, 2005 and has served 910 parents, 422 of those have completed the FRP program successfully. The FRP uses a parallel model and offers prevention services, case management, treatment referrals within 24 hours of assessment, mental health services, housing and transportation assistance along with incentives for families. They provide onsite mental health assessments, therapy and psychological evaluations, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Programs (PRP) for adults with serious and persistent mental illness, family therapy sessions and individual therapy sessions with children, transitional housing resources, vocational training and substance use treatment. NPC Research conducted an independent outcome and cost study of the Baltimore City FRP, which concluded that families in the FRP had shorter foster care stays, greater reunification rates, higher treatment completion and reduced cost to the child welfare system.


Chatham County Juvenile Court, Family Dependency Treatment Court

Chatham County, Georgia

Click here for the full Chatham County Family Dependency Treatment Court Profile

The Chatham County Family Dependency Treatment Court (FDTC) began operation on January 8, 2008 and has the capacity to serve 79 parents and children. This PLC utilizes an integrated model and provides an integrated, court-based and multi-disciplinary team approach, which strives to achieve timely decisions, coordinated treatment and ancillary services. All clients and children are assessed using biopsychosocial evaluations, a Locus evaluation, drug screening and nursing assessments. Clients are also assessed for any medical, psychological, educational and safety needs. Services for the individuals in the family are garnered depending on identified needs including domestic violence, parenting, housing, clothing, food and legal assistance. The FDTC team has received in-depth training on motivating behavior change and has applied this learned principle to accomplish this in their own court through a system of incentives and responses to behavior. A program evaluation was completed in 2009 and a current evaluation is being conducted by NPC research as part of a statewide initiative.

Jackson County Family Drug Court, 16th Judicial District

Jackson County, Missouri

Click here for the full Jackson County Family Drug Court Profile

The Jackson County Family Drug Court (FDC), established in 1997, was selected as one of three national pilot sites by the George Washington University evaluation team. This FDC utilizes an integrated model and has a capacity to serve 110 families. They have a well-developed set of partnerships that represent long standing collaborative relationships that enables families to receive comprehensive trauma-informed services, substance use treatment, transitional housing, aftercare, educational services, family counseling, psychiatric services as needed, domestic violence and crisis prevention services, case management and transportation support. In addition, they have developed a partnership with The Children’s Place who provides comprehensive services to the children in the program, including PCIT. The FDC offers gender-specific treatment focus and a medication assisted treatment option. This PLC has completed a substantial evaluation and uses the results to modify and improve program practices.


Pima County Juvenile Court

Pima County, Arizona

Click here for the full Pima County Family Drug Court Profile

The Pima County Family Drug Court (FDC) has been in operation since June 20, 2001 and has had 253 graduates. The FDC can serve up to 80 parents and 136 children at one time. Pima County FDC uses a parallel model and has established solid relationships with the local CPS and Regional Behavioral Health Agency administrations that remain committed to FDC. This PLC offers intensive case management, Recovery Support Specialists, child case specialists, trauma screenings and referral to trauma treatment, developmental assessments, parent/child relationship assessments, Celebrating Families! parenting curriculum, alumni services and culturally-appropriate treatment specifically addressing sexual trauma history as it relates to substance abuse. In addition, the Pima FDC utilizes gender responsive court dockets to ensure that each parent receives specialized case planning. The Pima County FDC history of fidelity to best practice and specialization in individual, trauma-informed therapy is an example of excellence in the field.


Contact us

To learn more about the FDC Peer Learning Court Program or to visit one of the courts, click here.

This project is supported by Award No. 2016-DC-BX-K003 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Office of Justice Programs. The opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Department of Justice.