Family Drug Court
Substance Abuse

A 1999 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study indicated that roughly 60 percent of child abuse cases nationwide involved drugs and/or alcohol. In such cases, children who go into foster care remain there for an average of 11 months, compared to an average of 5 months for children of non substance abusing parents. (Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly, Vol. 14, No. 27, July 15, 2002) Family drug courts in general are designed to provide prompt evaluation and treatment with frequent monitoring to enhance compliance with family preservation plans.

  • Family Drug Court is a collaborative effort among the 4th District Juvenile Court , the Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Guardian Ad Litem, Office of the Public Defender, Western Region of the Division of Child and Family Services, and the Utah County Division of Substance Abuse. Utah County’s program has been operating for over four years and is a model for other programs in the state. A large number of child abuse and neglect cases are drug and alcohol related, however, unlike the adult drug court program, parents who find themselves charged with abuse and/or neglect are not charged with a felony crime (except in rare circumstances). Family drug court cases are civil actions. Parents may be involved in the Family Drug Court program for a period of six to eighteen months depending upon the age of the child or children involved. Their children may or may not be in their custody depending upon the charge and what stage of treatment they are in. Treatment may involve any level of care provided by the Utah County Division of Substance Abuse, or, in the case of single mothers, in the Utah Alcoholism Foundation’s House of Hope program for women with dependent children. The House of Hope provides a setting where women can have their children with them in residential treatment. (Research strongly indicates that women are much more likely to succeed in treatment if they are able to keep their children with them, and that they are less likely to become involved or remain in treatment if their children must be placed with family, friends, or in foster care).

  • Admission criteria for the program include an adjudicated case with DCFS related to child abuse and neglect which is drug and/or alcohol related, a diagnosis of drug and/or alcohol abuse or dependence, a plan for reunification of the family (if the children are in an out-of-home placement), and voluntary participation. The program has a capacity of 48 families.

  • Discharge criteria include completion of recommended treatment and no positive drug tests for the final six months of treatment. The incentive for clients to participate in the program is family reunification versus termination of parental rights.

  • The program contains four phases plus a pre-court phase where eligibility and motivation for participation is established. Clients must be screened first by DCFS and then by the family drug court team.

  • Clients who participate in the drug court program must pay drug court fees which include the costs of regular, random drug testing. Funding for the family drug court program comes from client fees, federal, state, and county funds, and a drug court grant provided by the Utah State Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Abuse & Mental Health.

  • Please refer to the Links page for drug court web site links.