Weekly Feature



2017-07-27 / Local News

Grant to enhance county’s Family Treatment Drug Court

A five-year federal grant totaling $2.12 million has been awarded to the Erie County Family Treatment Drug Court Enhancement Initiative.

According to Rep. Brian Higgins, County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Erie County District Attorney John Flynn Jr., new funds will pair the authority of the court system with compassionate, proven treatment services toward the goal of improving the family unit and advancing lifelong recovery.

With opioid abuse on the rise, the award comes at a critical time, Higgins said.

“Addiction impacts those struggling with substance abuse as well as the people who love them,” Higgins said in a press release. “This provides new resources to help break the cycle of addiction and build stronger families.”

“This grant provides another tool in the fight against drug and opioid abuse and gives us the ability to provide the services and supports that families need to get whole again,” Poloncarz added. “The Treatment Court is an excellent avenue to connect families with these services, and I thank them and all our partners for working together to better protect families.”

Drug courts rely on evidence-based best practices to implement a cost-effective criminal justice program designed to treat addiction, reduce crime and decrease rates of recidivism through intense court supervision.

The award will provide $425,000 per year from 2017 to 2022 through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with Erie County Family Court, the release said.

The University at Buffalo and BestSelf Behavioral Health will partner with Erie County Family Court to bring enhanced substance use disorder services into existing programming.

“This significant grant will go far in helping our court system support those struggling with addiction,” Flynn said. “We thank the federal government for acknowledging the good work we are doing in Erie County to help make our community stronger and safer.”

Erie County Commissioner of Mental Health Michael Ranney said the grant awarded to Erie County will bring valuable support services to families involved in the Treatment Court through local Family Court.

“The services will be in the form of substance use disorder prevention, recovery and relapse prevention. Additionally, behavioral health and physical health services will be wrapped around the entire family. Our goal is to support recovery and help strengthen families. Thank you to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for this opportunity,” he said.

Howard Hitzel, president and CEO of Best- Self Behavioral Health, said BestSelf is pleased to be a partner in the initiative aimed at helping families deal with the impact of addiction.

“The provider community has seen the devastating effect that the opioid epidemic has had on families, including parents and their children. This grant will assist parents who are in recovery and provide much-needed treatment and supports to their children with the goal of preserving families,” Hitzel added.

The Erie County Family Treatment Drug Court Enhancement Initiative will allow for the incorporation of two evidenced-based practices: Celebrating Families! and Connections.

Celebrating Families! is a parenting skills training program for families in which one or both parents have alcohol or drug problems and are at high risk for domestic violence, child abuse or neglect. Both children and adults are included in the curriculum that promotes safe, healthy, addiction-free families. Connections integrates behavioral and medical treatment providers into wrap-around services for families.

Western New York has been a nationwide leader in advancing treatment court initiatives, the release said.

In 2008, Buffalo City Court Judge Robert Russell established the country’s first Veterans Treatment Court, and earlier this year it was announced that Buffalo City Court Judge Craig Hannah will preside over the nation’s first Opiate Crisis Intervention Court supported in part through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Higgins said drug courts have proven to be highly effective.

According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, 75 percent of individuals who complete drug court programs do not reoffend, and it is estimated that these courts save up to $13,000 for every person served. Close to 3,200 drug courts across the nation serve approximately 150,000 people each year.

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