2 first graduates from program designed to keep families together | Louisiana News

HOUMA, La. (AP) — Two participants graduated this week from a special Terrebonne Parish Court created to keep families together through the court system.

The two parents are the first to successfully complete the Family Preservation Court treatment plan and reunite with their children, officials said. They celebrated their achievement at a graduation ceremony on Friday.

“I am grateful for the renewed hope that FPC has given me and my family,” one graduate told the Courier and the Daily Comet. “A team of professionals provided me with the resources and guidance needed to overcome addiction and prepare to become a parent. Now my son will never have to know what it is like to grow up in a dysfunctional home of substance abuse again because of what FPC did for me.

Launched in March 2021, the Family Preservation Court offers parents faster access to treatment and the ability to stay in treatment longer, organizers said. Unlike traditional drug courts, where the initial motivation is to avoid jail time, the incentive in family preservation court is to maintain custody of the children.

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The program aims to improve the quality, safety and well-being of children affected by substance abuse by supporting the long-term recovery of parents, ensuring accountability and allowing easier access to treatment during and after the court of justice. preservation of the family.

A team of organizers run the program including a social worker, Terrebonne Parish District Attorney’s Office, Parents’ Attorney, Children’s Attorneys, CASA, Ministry of Children and Family Services, social workers, local treatment providers and the program director.

“A unique aspect of Family Preservation Court is its collaboration with the team of professionals in the Ochsner-Chabert Behavioral Health Unit,” said Valerie Cooper, program director. “Their approach of acute detoxification with behavioral stabilization followed by inpatient placement provides an in-depth assessment that allows the Family Preservation Court team to treat substance use disorder in a way that exposes numerous underlying mental health disorders that frequently lead to relapse.”

Participants meet with Houma State District Judge David Arceneaux every two weeks to report on their progress and review their treatment plan with team members.

Through this “collaborative, non-adversarial approach,” the Family Preservation Court incorporates drug use treatment and increased accountability into the process, officials said.

The ultimate goal is to give parents faster access to treatment while teaching them how to manage their substance use issues as a lifelong illness, officials said.

The special court served an average of 15 clients last year, but organizers plan to enroll more.

“We hope to expand our program next year to 20-25 parents to give more parents the opportunity to heal their addiction and heal their families,” said Terrebonne Assistant District Attorney Ellen Doskey.

Arceneaux said the program has come a long way in its first year.

“I am impressed with the progress all parents have made in our program,” Judge said. “I am convinced that with our hands-on approach, more children will be reunited with their parents in a healthy and safe home. »

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