Tulsa Family Drug Court Reuniting Families

Tuesday, March 12th 2013, 5:19 pm
By: Craig Day

A comprehensive study shows Tulsa County's family drug court is making a huge difference in getting people off drugs, and children out of foster care.

The program is having such good success, experts say it's becoming a model for other similar programs nationwide.

At the Tulsa County family drug court, they're going over the results of a comprehensive study on how they're doing. Jody Brook, a professor and child welfare researcher with the University of Kansas, did the study.

"This has been an incredibly impactful intervention, and it's making a difference in the lives of children, and in families," said Jody Brook, child welfare researcher.

The Tulsa County Family Drug Court started in 1998. But it's currently in the middle of a four-year "Children affected by Methamphetamine" grant.

The research found the Tulsa County program is successfully reunifying parents and children almost two times faster than traditional child welfare cases. 

"We've got folks here taking notes on how Tulsa County is doing this because the results are quite impressive," Brook said.

Teresa Wilson is one of the positive results.

She'll graduate from the program in April. An addiction to K-2 and alcohol and leaving her toddler home alone led to her little girl being in foster care for a year. 

"I had not apparently arranged child care and she didn't know where I was, and they found her out in the street running around looking for mommy," Teresa Wilson said.

With support to beat addiction, she's now drug free. Back with her daughter. And getting comprehensive services like parenting skills, counseling and support that have made the program successful.

"I wouldn't be here without it, if it weren't for the family drug court system, I wouldn't have survived; I wouldn't have made it on my own," Wilson said.

Judge Kyle Haskins says the program has also had a tremendous impact in other areas under the Children and Meth grant.

"We've had approximately 17 graduations. We have not had a single parent come back yet; we have not had a single child come back into the child welfare system," Judge Haskins said.

The KU study of the children and meth federal grant also found Tulsa County's program has increased dads' participating to 53 percent compared to 28 percent nationally.

And 66 percent of participants finish the program in Tulsa County - compared to 38 percent nationally.