Hancock County officials propose new drug dependency court

Hancock County officials propose new drug dependency court

HANCOCK COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - Last year in Hancock County was the first time the number of children removed from their homes due to parent drug use outnumbered removals due to neglect.

Which is why officials are looking into changing the way drug addiction is being dealt with in juvenile court.

The Hancock County Juvenile and Probate court has been working towards establishing a separate court, whose docket would focus solely on family drug dependencies.

The proposed Family Dependency Treatment Court would be a new docket under the Juvenile Court system.

Cases would be recommended by Children's Services of current cases of parents or future parents dealing with drug addiction.

"Get parents engaged earlier, get mothers engaged in treatment, perhaps save some of those children from being born addicted," said Juvenile and Probate Judge Kristen Johnson.

The dependency cases would be in addition to the current Children's Services cases.

Those cases are reviewed every 3 months.

The new dependency cases would be reviewed weekly, then bi-weekly, and then monthly.

"Research has shown more contact with the court does people good," said Judge Johnson. "They do better in treatment, we hold them accountable more often."

The family dependency court is a cooperation of 15 county organizations.

It would create a lot more work for case workers, and would facilitate a full-time coordinator position being created.

The coordinators salary would be paid by a gr ant from the Ohio Supreme Court, and benefits would be supplied by Hancock County.

Johnson says the extra effort and money is worth using.

"If we can keep kids out of foster care, if we can keep kids from being born addicted, then it is certainly worth the time," said Johnson.

Judge Johnson hopes to have the new Family Dependency Court certified by the Supreme Court by the end of the year.

Follow WTOL:  

Download our app here

Copyright 2016 WTOL. All rights reserved.