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Project Description

Georgia The Appalachian and Douglas Family Dependency Treatment Courts (FDTCs) applied the Family Drug Court model to serve families over a four-year period. The intervention consisted of participation in intensive substance abuse treatment, consistent judicial oversight, frequent and random drug screening and a variety of ancillary services all provided within the oversight by a judge-led, interdisciplinary collaborative team. Key agencies represented on the team included the juvenile court, the Department of Children and Families Services (DFCS), Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), treatment providers and attorneys representing both children and parents.

Target Population

FDTCs targeted:

  • Parental substance abuse that has deleteriously impacted the children
  • Children under the age of four
  • Referral from the local Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS), Georgia’s Child Protective Services agency

Major Project Goals

  • Improving caregiver outcomes by helping parents to maintain sobriety, decreasing family stress, improving parent-child interactions and decreasing child abuse and neglect;
  • Improving child outcomes by promoting child safety;
  • Having the courts improve the content and delivery of supportive services for mental and physical child development;
  • Decreasing involvement in the Child Welfare System by reducing out-of-home placements;
  • Reuniting children with their parents after out-of-home placements;
  • Promoting safe, healthy home environments with functional caregivers for all children in the system.

Key Major Program Services

Case Management and In-Home Services

  • Intensive/Coordinated Case Management
  • Family Group Decision Making/Family Case Conferencing
  • Wraparound/Intensive In-Home Services

Parenting/Family Strengthening

  • Manualized/Evidence-Based Parenting Program – Nurturing Parenting, Celebrating Families!

Mental Health and Trauma

  • Mental Health Services & Psychiatric Care
  • Trauma-Informed Services

Engagement/Involvement of Fathers

  • Targeted Outreach to Fathers

Screening and Assessment – Child Welfare and Other Children’s Issues

  • Specialized Child Screening and Assessment – Developmental, Mental Health, Trauma, Behavioral, Socio-Emotional

Children’s Services

  • Early Intervention Services
  • Developmental Services
  • Therapeutic Services
  • Trauma Services

Housing Services

  • Housing Supportive Services
  • Housing Assistance
  • Transitional/Short-Term Housing

Partner Agencies and Organizations

The FDTCs Project includes the following partners:

Child Welfare

  • Regional/County Child Welfare Agency

Substance Abuse

  • Substance Abuse Treatment Provider

Other Community and Child and Family Services

  • Other Child/Family Services Provider

Other Evaluation and Training

  • Evaluator (University-affiliated or other)

Performance Indicators

Family Well-Being

Qualitative Data: Findings from the focus groups indicated that participating in the FDTC has increased sobriety, social and relational support, community connectedness, parenting skills and new ways of thinking. An increase in the participants’ confidence has allowed them to be much better parents than they had been prior to their participation.


Continued Sobriety: Participants in Appalachian Circuit had a significantly lower rate of positive drug screens than their counterparts in the Douglas FDTC. The average percent of screens positive in the Appalachian Circuit was 1.0 percent, whereas in the Douglas FDTC it was 10.0 percent.


Reunification: Of 67 participants who had at least 1 child removed (and for whom reunification status was known), 26 (38.0 percent) had their children returned to them by the end of the study period. Fifteen participants who had not regained custody (48.0 percent of those not regaining custody) remained active participants in the program and are working towards achieving custody. Together, these figures suggest that the FDTCs are providing parents with the opportunity to regain custody of their children, should they participate meaningfully in the program.

Sustainability Status

The Appalachian FDTC was expanded during the final year of the grant and the number of participants enrolled across the two courts during year four exceeded the number enrolled in any of the previous three funded years. Towards the end of the grant period, Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia asked that 10 million dollars be allocated statewide to expand accountability courts, which included the family drug courts (i.e., the programs will be sustained in full). Furthermore, a case manager position was secured through county funding.

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Project Details

  • Lead Agency:
    Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Geographic Area and Congressional District Served:
    Douglas, Appalachian Circuit (Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens Counties); Congressional Districts 3, 9 & 13
  • Federal Grant:
    $500,000/3 years (2008-2011)
  • Evaluation Design and Comparison Group Type:
    Quasi-experimental, Same-Time, Matched Case-Level
  • Proposed Number Served (3 years):
    Children: 157
    Adults: 105
    Families: 90
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