Trial Court opens first Family Drug Court in Massachusetts

An official ceremony was held at Greenfield Community College on Friday to announce the first family drug court.

file photo

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Trial Court announced the state’s first family drug court, operated through the Franklin Country Probate and Family Court.

A ceremony was held at Greenfield Community College on Friday and speakers and attendees of the event included Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey, Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court Angela Ordoñez, and Commissioner of Probation Edward Dolan. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey was the keynote speaker. The event was hosted by Franklin Probate and Family Court First Justice Beth Crawford, who is the presiding judge of the Family Drug Court.

In 2013, court and community leaders came together to form the Franklin County Opioid Task Force to address growing numbers of opioid addiction in western Massachusetts. The Family Drug Court is a new approach to handling the increasing number of custody and parenting cases where substance abuse is a factor.

“The program is built on the premise that families are systems,” said Carey. “The illness of one member has profound effects on other in that family. The Franklin Family Drug Court will assist the parent in recovery and will also address the needs of children and their caregivers.”

The court may refer parent for mental health treatment and medical care. One of both parents will be eligible to participate in the Family Drug Court whenever their use of substances, including alcohol, jeopardizes custody of, or parenting time with their children. The court will also refer children and their caregivers for services and education, while the parent seeks treatment. Children will be referred for trauma assessments and follow-up treatment.

Massachusetts has four types of specialty court sessions: drug courts, mental health courts, and veterans’ treatment courts, and a homeless court. There are 39 specialty courts in Massachusetts, including 23 adult drug courts, seven mental health courts, five veterans’ treatment courts, three juvenile drug courts, and one homeless court.

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