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Transitioning to a Family Centered Approach: Best Practices and Lessons Learned from Three Adult Drug Courts

ABA Center on Children and the Law – 2017

This case study looks at three adult drug courts (ADCs) from Florida, Michigan, and Montana that are in the process of transitioning from a traditional ADC to one that has expanded services to families and children of program participants. These courts had begun the transition process less than five years earlier and were at various stages in their transitions. The purpose of this case study was to obtain information about the ADC core team members’ experiences and perceptions of the ADC processes as well as the programs’ successes and challenges as they increased their services to address the needs of children and families. A semistructured interview process was used to obtain an in-depth understanding of the ADC regarding its collaboration, communication, shared knowledge, method of addressing the needs of families and children, funding, sustainability, and outcomes. Interviews with ADC participants were also conducted to better understand their views of the programs’ strengths and challenges. The case studies found ten key strategies for implementing a family-focused approach: ensure strong judicial and coordinator leadership to guide the shift from a participant-focused court model to a family-focused one; engage cross- system partners to revise the court mission, vision, and protocols to reflect the transition to a family-centered model; develop community partnerships to expand comprehensive services; ensure strong communication and information sharing; develop cross-system training; conduct screening and assessment and refer participants to appropriate services; provide evidence-based; implement responses to behaviors that are sensitive to the needs of parents and families; develop sustainability plans; and conduct program evaluations to identify parent, child, and family outcomes. 34 references. (Author abstract modified)