Family drug treatment court set to open in Roane Co.

SPENCER, W.Va. (AP) — A family drug treatment court is set to open in a West Virginia county.

The opening of the court at the Roane County Courthouse in Spencer is scheduled for Friday. Four state Supreme Court justices are expected to attend. The event is open to the public.

Family treatment courts are aimed at protecting abused and neglected children while helping parents facing the potential loss of custody to overcome substance use disorders.

The Legislature approved the new court system last March. The first such court opened in Boone County in October. Participation by families is voluntary.

Drug cases have overwhelmed West Virginia’s court system. In a state of 1.8 million residents, more than 30,000 people are in drug treatment in West Virginia, which has by far the nation’s highest drug overdose death rate.

As the state grapples with the addiction epidemic, the number of children under state foster care has swelled to about 6,900, up more than 60% from 2015.

State Supreme Court Justice Beth Walker has said nearly one-third of the appeals heard by the court involve child abuse and neglect.

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.