DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – In the midst of a drug crisis tearing families apart, an innovative program in Montgomery County is aiming to reunite them.
Parents recovering from addiction and mental illness are trying to earn the children back through Family Treatment Court. The voluntary program is a collaboration between the Montgomery County Juvenile Court, Job & Family Services/Children Services Division (CSD) and various mental health and addiction treatment providers. Participants must agree to frequent, random drug testing, actively work towards rigorous goals and attend a two-hour court session each Wednesday.
At the most recent group court session, participant Chelsey Blankenship was named “MVP” for her progress. The Kettering native got hooked on prescription painkillers as a teenager, which led to a heroin addiction. In June 2017, she was forced to surrender her children.
“(It was) very painful, very eye-opening,” Blankenship said of giving up her children. “It’s definitely when I found my strength to get up and fight (my addiction).”
Different treatment programs eventually landed her in Montgomery County Family Treatment Court.
“It’s like you don’t want to do it at first, you kind of have to make yourself,” she said. “Then, somewhere along the road something starts clicking and it gets easier.”
Blankenship is now stably employed and recently celebrated more than 280 days without substance use. She reunited with her youngest daughter in mid-October and is working toward legal custody for all of her children.
“I’ve gained so much more than I had before I even got clean,” she explained. “I mean, I had my kids before, but I didn’t have the skills I have now.”
Other participants in Wednesday’s meeting are at different stages in their recovery. Jennifer Rosseland entered Family Treatment Court in July and said the biggest difference between it and other treatment programs is the support she receives from staff and fellow participants.
“Just seeing that people are in the same situation, going through a lot of the same things you are, and just knowing that they’re to support you and back you up… that’s what people need,” Rosseland said.
The Huber Heights mother is actively seeking custody for her three children. She agreed the program gives her a support system and the tools to maintain long-term recovery.
“I guess this is what normal feels like, whatever normal is,” she said. “It’s a really good feeling.”
Wednesday, November 7th, five parents are graduating from the program. The Juvenile Justice Center is hosting a ceremony for the graduates at 9:30 a.m.