In Judge Frank Sullivan's courtroom the stakes could not be higher--fail here and you lose your family. When you ask the judge what’s at stake, he responds "The kids. These kids belong home with their families.”
This is family treatment court. The parents here are all fighting to keep or regain custody of their kids and they’re fighting addiction. Here they'll be paired with therapists and counselors to complete a four-step process that begins with getting clean and ends with a place to live and a steady job. For Archana Pillay, the light at the end of this tunnel is a seven-month-old girl.
“When you’re around other people in similar situations it is very motivating. Because you can see the benefits of following this program.” Pillay tells us, “No one wants to be separated but separation might be needed while you figure out what areas in your life need improvement.”
Pillay has been in the program for a little over a month and doing well. Its a long way from the mom who didn't think she needed treatment at all and who had regular interactions with child protective services.
"The alternative was I could continue as I was doing and not get my daughter back", she said. “That's not an option.”
Soon, this small courtroom will get a big boost. The Department of Justice sending nearly $900,000 in the form of grant money. Money that will go providing 26 in-patient beds for the parents who need that level of addiction treatment through 2021.
“We need as a community to help these families", Judge Sullivan told us. “You get healthy parents, healthy children and healthy community.”