Reunifying families separated by drug abuse, and keeping them that way, are the major goals of a $646,951 grant awarded to Barron County by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, it was announced Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, by the Barron County Department of Health & Human Services

The grant will run over the next three years, according to Ashley Weinert, preventions specialist with the county HHS.

The grant will be used “to build the capacity of local courts and units of local government, to establish new family drug courts … to … serve parents who require treatment for a substance abuse disorder and who are involved with the child welfare system as a result of child abuse, neglect, or other parenting issues,” the announcement said.

“Family drug courts provide intense judicial monitoring and interventions (that use a) multi-disciplinary approach to treat parents’ substance use and/or co-occurring mental health disorders. Barron County was one of 11 counties across the nation to receive the grant in 2019, and the only recipient from Wisconsin.

“Barron County has had many collaborative efforts working toward a drug-free community,” Circuit Court Judge James C. Babler said. “We believe that through the implementation of a Family Drug Treatment Court, we will have one more service on the continuum to combat the drug problem, specifically methamphetamine, which we see taking over the lives of many of our citizens,” he said.

“Barron County Family Treatment Court” will provide treatment and supportive services to participants to improving safety, well-being, and permanence for children. The county intends to use an integrated model with the same court and judge hearing both dependency and recovery matters.

At its maximum, the program will serve up to a dozen families at any one given time. The court will work on three primary goals: safely reunify families within 6 months of program acceptance, achieve a 75-percent reunification rate for families and maintain a 10-percent or lower reentry rate into out-of-home care for children who graduate from the program.

The grant will be aimed at improving treatment completion rates, reducing the number of reentries into the child welfare system, and more efficient case processing.

“The implementation of Family Treatment Court is an opportunity to focus on rehabilitation and substance use recovery while ensuring children are safe,” Stacey Frolik, director of the county HHS Department, said.

“Addiction has become the top concern for families involved in the child welfare system in Barron County and this funding will give us one more option when working to support, strengthen and heal families,” she said.

The project will run through September 30, 2022.