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.