This report describes the features and positive effects of the Milwaukee County Family Drug Treatment Court (FDTC), which uses a multidisciplinary team and judicial involvement in developing, implementing, and monitoring case management of families experiencing problems due to family members’ drug abuse.
The leader of the FDTC multidisciplinary team is a judicial officer, typically a judge. Suggested team members are a court coordinator, a representative of child protective services, a legal services representative, a representative of a drug treatment provider, the parents and children involved, supportive family caregivers, and mental health therapists. Other team members may include representatives of services in the fields of healthcare, education, vocation, recovery, family re-unification, law enforcement, and probation. Judge Laura Crivello, the presiding judge of treatment courts in Milwaukee County’s children’s courts, describes the FDTC as “a voluntary, life-changing experience to members of our community who are at the most difficult point in their lives: having their children detained. I have seen it transform lives and believe wholeheartedly in the ideology and process.” A meta-analysis of the impacts of family treatment courts on child welfare outcomes found that families who participated in them were twice as likely to be reunified than those who participated in more conventional services. Milwaukee County court data on child welfare outcomes indicate that participants in the FDTC have a higher rate of family reunification than non-participants (41 percent compared to 28 percent). Online access is provided to other U.S. family drug treatment courts. A resource listing is provided.