The Dawson County Family Treatment Court provides timely comprehensive services to substance abusing parents who have lost or are at risk of losing custody of their children or whose substance abuse has had a direct, negative impact on their children. Parents participate in intensive long-term treatment coupled with accountability through frequent court appearances and observed random drug screenings in order to ensure that their children will achieve timely permanency. This program breaks the cycle of addiction, allows children to live safely in their home, reduces recidivism, empowers parents to successfully address other issues affecting child well-being, and builds a foundation for a sober and healthy family environment.
Eligibility and Disqualification Criteria
- Ongoing cases with reported substance abuse/use issues (must meet dependency criteria)
- Children either in foster care or at home
- Biological primary care giving parents age 18 years or over
- Adult caregivers living in the home
- Dawson County resident
- Must not be using any addictive/prohibited prescription medications
- New and existing DFCS court cases; ongoing CPS cases
- Consideration for entry will be given to persons on felony or misdemeanor probation in Dawson County if the offender has minor children and evidence of substance abuse is present even if no DFCS involvement is present. The request for consideration for entry into FTC may come from Probation, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, or from the sentencing judge. The FTC team has final decision making in the acceptance of these cases.
- Private deprivation cases
- Past felony grade conviction of physical or sexual violence towards a minor
- Conviction for trafficking, manufacturing, or selling (intent to distribute/selling will be looked at case by case)
- Significant or severe and persistent mental illness or mental retardation that would prevent their success in FTC
Clinical Eligibility - The parent must have:
- The ability to participate actively in the substance abuse treatment program as directed by the substance abuse treatment provider and the court
- No significant mental health disorders that would substantially limit, in the professional opinion of the treatment provider, the parent’s ability to participate actively in treatment even with reasonable accommodations
- No significant mental disabilities that would substantially limit, in the professional opinion of the treatment provider, the parent’s ability to participate actively in treatment even with reasonable accommodations
- No chronic or terminal medical conditions requiring extensive medical treatment that would substantially limit, in the professional opinion of the parent’s healthcare provider, the parent’s ability to participate actively in treatment even with reasonable accommodations
- No violent behavior, as determined by the treatment provider, which may put the parent or the Family Treatment Court participants at risk of injury because of the parent’s participation in the program
The screening process for Family Treatment Court participation may begin in a deprivation court hearing: 72-hour hearing, adjudication, disposition, or review. It may also begin as early as a DFCS investigation substantiates substance use. The DFCS case manager may make the referral once use is confirmed in order to streamline the process.
At any point in a traditional deprivation hearing, the judge, parent, Family Treatment Court parent attorney, child attorney, CASA, SAAG, or DFCS case manager may ask that a case be considered for transfer to the Family Treatment Court. If the judge initiates or approves the request for transfer to the Family Treatment Court, the parent will be referred to the Family Treatment Court Coordinator who will detail the program to the parent, have them sign necessary waivers and releases, and arrange a drug and alcohol assessment.
Four prerequisites must be met before a parent can be accepted into the Family Treatment Court program:
- DFCS or the Court must identify the parent as meeting the “program” eligibility requirements (goal: identification within 24–48 hours of parent coming to the attention of DFCS or the court)
- The parent must volunteer, after consultation with the Family Treatment Court Coordinator and parent attorney, to participate in the program if accepted (goal: consultation and paperwork completed within 48–72 hours)
- The substance abuse assessment must find that the parent meets the “clinical” eligibility requirements (goal: clinical assessment completed within 1-2 weeks)
- The parent’s application for admission is accepted by the Family Treatment Court team (goal: applications will be considered bi-weekly at the staffing meeting)
Because potential Family Treatment Court cases can come to the program by a variety of routes, it is impossible to require that these prerequisites be met in any particular order. The final confirmation that a parent has met all the four prerequisites, however, will be made by the Family Treatment Court.
Referrals for Family Treatment Court participation come from the Dawson County Juvenile Court, the Dawson County Department of Family and Children Services, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, the Department of Community Supervision, and private defense attorneys.
Marisa Sullens, Coordinator
Megan Hill, Case Manager
Phone Number: 706-265-8425
Physical Address: 189 Hwy 53 W, Suite 106 Dawsonville, GA 30534
Mailing Address: 189 Hwy 53 W, Suite 106 Dawsonville, GA 30534
Important Phone Numbers
Drug Screen Line: (678) 456-3303
Avita Community Partners: (678) 866-8777
Public Defender’s Office: (706) 216-3853
Georgia Crisis and Access Line: 1-800-715-4225
CARES Warm Line: 1-866-326-5400
Hall County Department of Family and Children Services: (706) 265-6598
- To report child abuse, call the CPT Central Intake Center: 1-855-422-4453
- For questions regarding Food Stamps, Medicaid, TANF or Childcare: 1-877-423-4746