Jefferson County Recovery Court
The Jefferson Family Recovery Court (JFRC) is a non-adversarial, court-supervised substance treatment and family support program for parents seeking to reunite with their children or maintain them in their care. It is a voluntary program with four phases over a one-year period.
JFRC is conducted separately from the Dependency, Neglect and Abuse docket after adjudication by the home court judge. The recovery court judge (and in the beginning, there will be only one recovery court judge) has weekly contact with treatment and service providers and participants and their families. Participants may be referred by judges, attorneys, case support managers, social workers or by the parent themselves.
JFRC is a response to the high percentage of substantiated child abuse and neglect cases involving substance use by a parent. In Jefferson County, over 87 percent of children in state custody have parents with drug/alcohol addiction. Recently, the National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section, conducted a Dependency Neglect and Abuse (DNA) Court Watch Project that studied the issue while attending court proceedings, noticing that the majority of cases that were heard in the DNA court docket were related to drugs or alcohol. Motivated by what they learned, they began work on raising the funds to launch a family recovery court in Jefferson County.
A similar court operated in Jefferson County for almost 10 years beginning in 2002, but closed due to funding constraints. Thanks to NCJW’s efforts, the court will begin operations again, creating the only Kentucky family recovery court focused on finding help for families involved in DNA cases.
JFRC employs a holistic approach that looks at recovery, relapse and reunification from a family-centric perspective, as well as an individual one. The program offers wrap-around services to the entire family, addressing parent and child issues in tandem with the welfare and safety of the child as paramount. The parent receives support to become sober, emotionally and financially self-sufficient, and provide a safe home environment.
JFRC is reinventing how communities respond to families affected by substance use disorders. It will reconnect families to values that are relevant to their system of success. It will redefine how child welfare, substance use disorder treatment and dependency court strategies and practices affect the future of every community.
Jefferson County already has a drug court. How is this one different?
The majority of participants in adult criminal drug court programs tend to be men while the majority of Family Drug Court participants are women. However, with the increase in opioid addiction, it is not uncommon for both parents to have substance abuse issues as well as other co-occurring issues such as domestic violence, mental health concerns and homelessness.
In JFRC, both parents are eligible to participate. Adult Drug Treatment Court cases involve criminal offenses and employ contempt sanctions that can include incarceration. These programs primarily involve men and do not use a holistic approach. JFRC addresses the issues of the entire family; while participants are primarily female, it can involve both parents.
JFRC uses a multidisciplinary team that assesses the family’s capacity and strengths and devises a comprehensive case plan that addresses the needs of the parents and children. JFRC will not use incarceration as a response to relapse. The overall mission is to reduce child welfare issues by using a coordinated and collaborative approach that focuses on the needs of the entire family rather than solely on the individual facing criminal charges. That includes providing resources for vocational training and obtaining and maintaining stable housing. The longer and more comprehensive treatment is designed to decrease recidivism and subsequent removal of children.
JFRC is an evidence based-program using the model from the Center for Children and Family Futures and National Drug Court Institute. Family treatment courts began in 1995 and today there are more than 300 such courts nationwide.