Nicholas County becomes fifth county to launch a family treatment court

SUMMERSVILLE, WV (WOAY) – Nicholas County now has a family treatment court with an aim to keep families together who have been affected by drugs. 

Nicholas County joins Roane, Ohio, Boone and Randolph counties as the fifth to do so, thanks to a year of persistence from Circuit Court Judge Stephen Callaghan. 

“My first week on the job I went down and had a meeting with the Supreme Court and some officials, the administration and said, ‘I insist that we have this.’ Now that might have been a bit aggressive, but I knew we needed it and we worked hard from that time on,” Callaghan said.  

Tim Armstead, Evan Jenkins and Beth Walker, three justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court came for the kickoff ceremony. 

All three talked about the importance of a program like this in curbing the epidemic and the caseload.

How this will work is families will come in where the parents have a substance use disorder. Typically, these will be abuse and neglect cases where drugs were found around the child or the parent was found under the influence.

There will be a screening process to determine the children are not being physically or sexually abused and then the parents will go into treatment. This program is all about accountability. 

“The judge will bring these families into the courtroom and talk to them about how their efforts to free themselves from addiction are going and be able to really track that process as it goes through and provide the support network that those families need,” Chief Justice Tim Armstead said. 

While the parents are working on getting clean, the children will go into foster care or stay with a relative, but Stephanie Smith, the family treatment case coordinator for Nicholas County, says the parents and children will keep contact. 

“One of the things that we’re doing that’s a little bit different is as soon as they get into this program, we start that visitation to try and keep that bond strong between the parents and the children since goal is reunification,” Smith said. 

It is a collaborative effort. Currently, there are 23 people on the family treatment court team in Nicholas County with the court’s own probation officer and CPS worker.

So far, there are 30 adults participating and 50 children in the program statewide, and one family is already going through Nicholas County’s new system. 

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.