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Appendix 1961: Family Drug Treatment Courts (FDTC)

CPS June 2010


In Texas, family drug treatment courts (FDTC) coordinate the efforts of the judiciary, substance abuse treatment providers, mental health providers, and CPS to break the cycle of substance abuse and the resulting maltreatment of children in the child welfare system.

Clients who meet the criteria can volunteer to participate in FDTC. The voluntary nature of FDTC enhances the personal and individualistic approach the FDTC offers to the parent. Each parent is addressed individually by the judge in an informal court setting. FDTCs in Texas primarily target clients who have a substance abuse problem in the Family-Based Safety Services (FBSS) phase or the conservatorship phase of CPS involvement.

The core components of FDTC include:

  •  judicial monitoring;

  •  treatment;

  •  drug testing; and

  •  CPS case management.

Drug Testing

Much of the success of the FDTCs is due to the mandatory periodic and random drug testing participants undergo. Usually the FDTC judge orders hair follicle tests, which can be detected after a relatively long time.

Duration and Philosophy of Family Drug Treatment Court

Initially, the client appears in a family drug treatment court weekly, in front of a judge, and reports on:

  •  the progress he or she has made toward maintaining abstinence; and

  •  the level of participation in treatment programs and community support groups.

Most FDTCs are based on phases that require one year of participation. There are graduated sanctions for clients who do not comply with the mandates of the court. Conversely, the court rewards clients who make progress during the FDTC phases of involvement.

When necessary, the FDTC treatment intervention can include mental health modalities. National research has shown that clients who participate in an FDTC increase their time in treatment, which is likely due to the support of the court.

The key to FDTC is connecting and engaging the client in treatment quickly and thus addressing some of the issues that brought the family to the attention of DFPS initially. The longer a client stays in treatment and participates in the drug court, the greater the chance that the parent may ameliorate the problems of abuse and neglect; thus leading to a successful safe outcome for the child and the family.

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