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White Paper

Publication Date



Evaluation, Family Dependency Treatment Court


Child abuse and neglect is a troubling issue all too familiar with courts in the United States. The problem becomes even more complicated when substance abuse is involved. In 2004, approximately 500,000 children were removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect issues1. In the past few years, a judicial model appeared to address both substance abuse and child dependency issues. This model, entitled Family Dependency Treatment Court (FDTC) enables the court to mandate treatment for parents and make reunification dependent on treatment compliance. The FDTC program in Hillsborough County, Florida is now in its second year and has raised a host of policy and procedural issues. As such, 20 key FDTC informants and 6 clients were interviewed to identify strengths and weaknesses of the program. Key areas identified as requiring improvement include increasing communication and collaboration among key stakeholders, training on FDTC inclusion criteria, and increased funding for treatment services and resources. Identified strengths included being a court-based treatment program, providing a supportive atmosphere for clients, and maintaining reunification as a goal. The results of this evaluation emphasize the importance of diverse organizations working collaboratively to achieve this often difficult objective within the child welfare setting.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Policy Evaluation of Hillsborough County’s Family Dependency Treatment Court, 23 p.