Family Recovery Court hopes Legislature will continue fundingCoordinator: Success of families is truly amazing
A local program offering assistance to families dealing with substance abuse is celebrating its two-year anniversary.
The Washington/Keokuk Family Recovery Court is an all-inclusive program, which deals with alcohol and substance abuse, said Dawn Schiefer, Washington and Keokuk’s Family Recovery Court coordinator.
“We work with families that have a case open with DHS [Department of Human Services],” she said. “We receive referrals from DHS and the family attorneys.”
Since the Family Recovery Court came to Washington and Keokuk County two years ago, 10 families have been served.
“It’s a pretty intense process and takes anywhere from a year to a year and a half to finish,” Schiefer said.
There are several stages in the process the person dealing with substance abuse and the family will go through.
“In the beginning phase it’s more intense,” Schiefer said. “There’s substance abuse treatment a person goes through. They also have to find housing and employment, too.”
Drug tests are another requirement a substance abuser must do while working with this court, Schiefer said.
“They call in every day to see if they need to provide a urine sample to us,” she said. “Over time the frequency of that may change.”
Another requirement is attending regular group therapy sessions.
“Every other Tuesday, when they’re not in court updating the judge on their progress, they’ll meet here [at the MECCA office in Washington] for a group session,” Schiefer said.
Schiefer keeps in touch with the family members during this process and sees if she can help them with assistance.
“We offer support for families through social activities like the Halloween and Christmas parties we hold,” she said. “I also encourage families to get their children involved at school with extracurricular activities and assist them with finding funding for these resources.”
Funding for the Family Recovery Court comes from state grants, Schiefer said. With the new legislative session beginning, Schiefer hopes legislators give more to the court systems in Iowa to fund family court programs.
“Chief Justice [Mark] Cady from Iowa talked about the importance of family treatment courts and family recovery courts last week,” she said. “The success we see from a family that has gone through this process is truly amazing. We have had children get into college and have had people on meth for 15 years get clean.”
Another important factor about the court is the family stays together through the whole process and the cost is less than if children were sent to foster care, Schiefer said.