Clay County gets first Family Recovery Court outside of Louisville

CLAY COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Volunteers of America, which has been expanding services in Southeastern Kentucky with a focus on treatment of substance use disorder, has announced the opening of a Family Recovery Court in Clay County – only the second Family Recovery Court in Kentucky.

VOA has been working to establish the program since receiving a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime’s grant program last October.  The grant came through a competitive federal grant process.

VOA employs two full-time professionals in the program and opened the court last week and already has seven referrals to services and treatment.

The Family Recovery Court model addresses substance use disorder and treatment and recovery with an emphasis on providing needed services to families.  Priorities include connecting individuals with treatment resources and reuniting families whenever possible while emphasizing long-term recovery and the safety of children.

Establishing the Family Recovery Court was made possible by the strong support of a range of key Kentucky leaders, including State Senate President Robert Stivers, Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts Laurie K. Dudgeon, Department of Community Based Services leaders Marta Miranda-Straub and Lesa Dennis as well as Family Court Judge Clint Harris.

“We know the Family Recovery Court model works and will make a difference in Clay County and can work throughout the region.  VOA is committed to keeping families safe and providing resources for long-term recovery and Family Recovery Court will be a truly important resource for Clay County families,” said Jennifer Hancock, President and CEO of Volunteers of America.

The model highlights the safety and welfare of abused and neglected children while building support for parents to effectively address substance abuse.  It will be the first of its kind outside of Louisville.  Leaders including Senate President Stivers and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have been strong advocates for the federal funding.

“VOA is doing important work in Clay County and I will continue to lead the way for them to serve more people who need help throughout Southeastern Kentucky.  Family Recovery Court is a proven and effective way to keep children safe and direct resources to early intervention for families in need,” said Kentucky State Senate President Robert Stivers.

VOA works closely with Family Recovery Court in Jefferson County and regularly serves as an alternative that focuses on recovery and treatment.

“The new Family Recovery Court is welcome news for those involved in family law cases in Clay County,” Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts Laurie K. Dudgeon said. “The program will provide early intervention for families in need and give Family Court Judge Clint Harris an alternative that addresses addiction and recovery in a way that prioritizes the welfare of the entire family.”

Judge Harris has already overseen seven referrals for service from the Court.

“I’m very pleased to lead this important and innovative initiative.  Family Recovery Court is an important way to provide solutions and alternatives to families who are facing tough times and tough decisions.  We’ll be overseeing options and directing resources that can help families get on the right path and keep children safe,” Judge Harris said.

Volunteers of America is also celebrating the first anniversary of its Freedom House program in Clay County.  Freedom House is VOA’s nationally-recognized treatment program for pregnant and parenting women working to overcome substance use disorder.

VOA also operates a Recovery Community Center in Manchester that serves as a meeting place and provides supports for individuals in recovery.  VOA also recently initiated a new Restorative Justice program in Clay, Leslie, Jackson, Laurel, Know, Whitley and McCreary Counties that emphasizes community collaboration to keep young people out of the criminal justice system.

“We know that Family Recovery Court works and is needed in Clay County and Southeastern Kentucky,” Kentucky Department for Community Based Services Deputy Commissioner Lesa Dennis said.  “We’re pleased to provide leadership that supports early intervention and effective alternatives for families in need.  VOA is a results-oriented partner and we look forward to helping more families with Clay County Recovery Court.”

Hancock said VOA continues to pursue expansion and service opportunities in Southeastern Kentucky, including more transitional housing options for women who complete the Freedom House program.

“Volunteers of America is committed to creating positive change in the communities we serve.  We are absolutely thrilled to be a partner and leader throughout this region.  Our goal is simple – to help people find hope and lead productive lives.  Overcoming substance use disorder is such a challenge and we are committed to being a long-term partner in recovery,” Hancock said.

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