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FAQs

FAMILY DEPENDENCY TREATMENT COURT FAQs

What is the difference between Dependency Court and the Family Dependency Treatment Court (FDTC)?

The FDTC follows the case closely and monitors the entire case making sure that the parents and the children’s needs are being met. There are more frequent court appearances which provide the participants greater access to services, incentives and extra help achieving the goals of reunification. In the Dependency Court after the disposition (case plan hearing), the case is then scheduled for the next scheduled court appearance in front of the General Magistrate. The FDTC judge is aware of all areas of the case, is familiar with the struggles and successes of the participants and can make decisions regarding the case based on this knowledge.

What are the program requirements?

Program requirements include but are not limited to:

  • Compliance with all contractual requirements and sanctions
  • Abstinence from use of drugs and alcohol
  • Successful completion of a substance abuse treatment program and Case Plan

Who is eligible for this program?

  • Must be a new petition
  • Must have substance abuse issues identified in the investigative report
  • Must have no past history of violent criminal offenses
  • Must not be alleged sexual perpetrators
  • If there were previous Termination of Parental Rights, the participant must be offered a new case plan
  • Must acknowledge need for substance abuse treatment
  • Must be willing to participate in the Family Dependency Treatment Court Program
  • Must be willing to detoxification from methadone if currently involved in Methadone Maintenance
  • Must not have an advanced terminal illness
  • Must not have a serious/unstable mental illness or be incompetent
  • Must be approved by the Dependency Treatment Court Judge
  • Must have reunification as a goal

What is the process once a participant is admitted into the program?

  • After the disposition of the case the participant is scheduled for an intake in the treatment court. It is at that time the participant will encounter the judge for the first time. If the judge feels the family is appropriate and meets all eligibility criteria the case will be followed in this division.
  • The participant receives an evaluation from the appropriate treatment provider and the recommendations are incorporated in their HKI case plan.
  • Submit to random substance abuse tests
  • Attend required meetings, counseling sessions, and other sanctions/tasks identified in case plan (i.e., ability to maintain employment, ability to maintain housing, and maintaining consistent visitations with child(ren)
  • Maintain contact with FDTC specialist, for content of regular court progress reports
  • Attend regular court appearances
  • Complete treatment program and Case Plan
  • Reunification with child(ren)

How long is this program?

There is no definite length to this program and the length of time you remain in this program is dependent on you. When there is addiction involved there can be a number of issues and concerns that need to be identified and dealt with before the reunification process begins. These cases do not usually follow the traditional plan of twelve months to permanency, but that does not mean it can not be achieved in that time frame. Once you complete treatment and are in substantial compliance with the HKI case plan reunification can be accomplished. The judge can decide when and if this occurs depending on the actions of the participants. When the participant has been granted reunification you will be successfully discharged from the FDTC and the case will be followed in the original division until protective services has been terminated (6 months from reunification).

Is the participant required to attend treatment of any sort?

The participants in this treatment court are required to attend substance abuse treatment. It is through this treatment that the participant will receive every opportunity to be successful in their goal of reunification with their children. This court also ensures that the participant is compliant with all areas of the case plan designed by Hillsborough Kids Inc.

What happens if I do not follow the orders of the court for treatment?

If the judge orders you to participate in a specific treatment program and you fail to attend or successfully complete, you will be served with an Order to Show Cause. The Order to Show Cause is designed to determine why you should not be held in contempt of court for failing to follow this courts order. This court allows you the opportunity to re-engage in the specified treatment program or if need be, referred to another program with the same stipulations to enter and successfully complete the identified program. If this behavior continues and it seems to the court that you are unwilling to participate in treatment, it may be suggested that this case be returned to the original division. The participant is then unsuccessfully discharged and scheduled a court date for the division judge to become aware of the status of this case. If reunification does not appear to be a viable goal, the division judge may ask HKI to staff the case to determine what changes to the case plan may be in order. This may jeopardize your chances of regaining custody of your child(ren).

Who are the key players in the FDTC?

The FDTC is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals that work in collaboration to ensure the participant is receiving the most appropriate services based on their needs. This team consists of: Judge, court case managers/counselors, area substance abuse treatment providers, Hillsborough Kids Inc. (HKI), Guardian Ad Litem, Office of the Attorney General, parents, attorneys, and other service providers that may be involved in the participants case.

What do the court counselor/case managers do in the program?

  • Complete a screening/assessment
  • Give referrals to treatment and handle follow-ups. Act as a link for the parent(s) between the treatment provider and the Court
  • Be available for crisis counseling
  • Work to engage the parent(s) throughout the process
  • Act as an advocate for the parent(s)

What is the program’s mission?

To work with Families in crisis as a result of their substance use and dependence and to do this in a non-threatening, helping environment.

Why was this program created?

The Family Dependency Treatment Court Program is a result of the need for a specialized court to work closely with parents/caregivers of children whose lives have been impacted by substance abuse or dependence.