Judge Steve Christopher Announces Grant Award

Posted on October 30, 2020

Hardin County October 30, 2020 — Hardin County Juvenile Court has been awarded $800,000 in federal grant funding through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.

The funds will be used to increase the number of participants and enhance treatment opportunities for those participating in the court’s family drug treatment program.
The Family Treatment Court administered by the Hardin County Juvenile Court was one of the original 18 test court’s for medically assisted treatment when The Ohio Supreme Court ran its pilot program to test the viability of Treatment Court’s in 2015.

Judge Christopher’s Court had the highest success rate statewide through that study and continues to be used as a model by the Supreme Court for other counties considering establishing treatment courts.

His Family Treatment Court is one of three specialized dockets administered through Juvenile Court and certified by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The drug treatment court program is led by Judge Steve Christopher with the purpose of helping children of parents who are struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. It is one of only two courts in the State of Ohio to receive this Department of Justice funding.

Participation in the drug treatment court is voluntary, and until now participation was limited to 15 participants. .

The newly obtained grant funding is intended to expand treatment services, provide staffing, training, supplies and other needs of the specialized court and will be spread over three years.

The additional funds will allow the total number of participants to increase to 25 and provide additional resources to expand the Court’s impact in the community.

According to the Judge, the grant funds will be used to place drug court participants in to medical or mental health services and to provide resources for the treatment they need to become clean and sober.

This is crucial since Ohio law requires Courts to attempt to reunify children with their parents in abuse, dependency, and neglect cases.

Judge Christopher said, “the drug court program takes people about 18 months to complete. This is a rigorous program and not everyone is able to successfully complete it.”

Participants are enrolled in drug court when they are at risk of losing or have lost the custody of their children due to the parents’ abuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
Referrals to the program come from Hardin County Job and Family Services.

The overriding goal is to provide treatment to parents with addiction and mental health issues.

The Court uses weekly court sessions that include assessments, treatment, and sanctions, including jail if necessary.

Assistance is provided by “a whole treatment team,” Judge Christopher said.

“The new grant will allow the court to cast an even wider safety net for children in our community,” he added.

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