SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) — A family drug treatment court is set to open in another West Virginia county.
The opening of the court at the Nicholas County Courthouse in Summersville is scheduled for Friday. Three state Supreme Court justices are expected to attend. The event is open to the public.
It is the last of five family treatment courts to open under a pilot program. Others are in Boone, Ohio, Randolph and Roane counties. The Legislature approved the new court system last March.
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.
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.
Nearly one-third of appeals heard by the Supreme Court involve child abuse and neglect.
“Family Drug Treatment Courts are an incredible initiative to address the effects of the opioid epidemic on our families,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Tim Armstead said in a statement.