The primary mission of FTCs is to improve the lives of children and their families by addressing the dependency resulting from substance use of a parent or caregiver through an integrated, court-based, and multi-disciplinary team approach to achieve timely decisions, coordinated treatment, ancillary services, judicial oversight, and safe and permanent placements.
Since its inception in 2008, the CC-FTC has served 127 parents who suffer from long-term, chronic and severe substance use disorder and provided services for 390 children affected by their parent(s') addiction.
CC-FTC is designated by the Council of Accountability Court Judges (CACJ) as a Model Court and as a State Peer Review Court. This court guides and assists new FTCs and existing FTCs seeking improvement. It is also charged with evaluating and certifying FTCs for compliance with best practices and state standards, which certification is a pre-requisite to receiving state funding.
CC-FTC previously served as a National Peer Learning Court by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and Children and Family Futures from 2014-2017. CC-FTC received an "Award of Excellence" at a symposium to improve family recovery, safety, and stability in 2012, as well as an award for "Top Family Court" for the State of Georgia.
The CC-FTC was a leader in creating the Georgia Family Treatment Court standards which were approved by the Judicial Council of Georgia. Judge Cole serves as a CACJ committee chair (the only Juvenile Court Judge to hold such a position) and serves on the CACJ Funding Committee, which allocates the state funding to the 168 accountability courts across the state.
CC-FTC Program Participants are required to:
To date, our program has included 27 drug free babies born to participants (others have been born drug-free after graduating the program). According to a U.S. Office of Justice Program study, the estimated costs related to the birth of a drug and/or alcohol exposed baby are between $750,000 and $1,400,000. The total estimated savings relating to drug free babies by our Family Treatment Court is between $20 million and $37.8 million dollars. These are significant savings by our county, city, schools, state and federal governments.
To date, grant funding has been secured in 20 separate states and federal awards totaling $2,055,923 and utilized to:
The multi-disciplinary team meets bi-weekly and includes: Presiding Judge Thomas L. Cole, the FTC Coordinator, the FTC Case Manager; the Division of Family and Children Services foster care and family preservation case managers (DFCS); the Special Assistant Attorney General representing DFCS; the Parent’s Attorney; the Child’s Attorney; a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA); the treatment provider, Recovery Place, Inc.; Community Policing through the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department; a Judicial Citizen Panel Review representative; an Assistant District Attorney; a Public Defender, a child development psychotherapist, and other persons as needed.
Any parent or caregiver who resides in Chatham County and who has a child adjudicated dependent due to the caretaker’s substance abuse or dependence.
FTC provides services to parents AND children. In addition to connecting parents with substance abuse treatment, FTC provides parents with individual counseling, GED or other tutoring services, relationship counseling, anger management, family counseling, nutrition, bonding/attunement therapy, job skills/employment training, evidence-based parenting, and additional visitations with their children. FTC also provides children with individual counseling or play therapy, tutoring, art therapy, and other services as needed.
Participants of FTC get additional services, support, and accountability. FTC cases are reviewed with the judge weekly, whereas a traditional case may only get reviewed every few months. Participants have an opportunity to speak with the judge, their attorney, DFCS case manager, and other service agencies and hold them accountable for the services they provide and complete their case plan in a timelier manner. FTC builds a support network for its participants utilizing the 12-15 professionals that comprise the FTC team including members from CASA, DFCS, Recovery Place Inc., Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, and Safe Shelter Inc. These team members work to provide the most in depth, personalized services and hold participants accountable for their progress in the program. In addition, FTC provides support for recovery via frequent drug screening (at least 3 times a week compared to once a month for regular DFCS cases), community policing, and the use of therapeutic incentives and sanctions to modify behavior.