Substance use poses a significant threat to the well-being of the nation's youth and to the communities in which they live. Approximately 41 million people age 12 and older needed substance use treatment in the past year, according to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey showed 1.6 million adolescents age 12 to 17 had a substance use disorder and 644,000 of these youth had a co-occurring major depressive episode in the past year.
Support services and drug courts funded by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) help youth and families overcome the effects of substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders.
Between fiscal years 2019 and 2021, OJJDP awarded $72.5 million to support services for people with substance use challenges and co-occurring mental health disorders.
Since 2007, OJJDP has provided more than $176.5 million to establish or expand juvenile drug treatment courts, family treatment courts, and Tribal juvenile healing to wellness courts. To enhance program effectiveness, the funds also support research and training and technical assistance.
Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program
In FY 21, OJJDP awarded more than $7.86 million to provide resources to state, local and Tribal governments to create and enhance juvenile treatment court programs for youth in the justice system who face substance use challenges, with a specific focus on opioid abuse. The courts work to strengthen family engagement, address the root problems that may cause substance use and addiction, and empower young people to lead productive drug-free lives.
Family Treatment Court Program
Family Treatment Courts serve children, parents and families involved in the child welfare system due to parental substance use as a contributing factor to child abuse or neglect. These courts provide intensive judicial monitoring and equal access to family-focused interventions, services, and supports using a multidisciplinary approach to meet the comprehensive needs of these families. Program goals are to ensure children have safe, nurturing, and permanent homes; parents achieve stable recovery and family members receive needed supports and services to improve family functioning.
In FY 21, OJJDP funded the Family Drug Court Program with more than $13.8 million to build the capacity of states, state and local courts, local governments and federal recognized Tribal governments to support existing family treatment courts or establish new courts.
Juvenile Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Program
In FY 21, OJJDP awarded $4.4 million for this program. Through this program, OJJDP enhances the capacity of Tribal courts to respond to the substance use challenges of court-involved youth. The courts use culturally informed approaches to promote accountability, healing, and Tribal identity in youth younger than 21.
In FY 21, OJJDP awarded $26.1 million to drug treatment court programs nationwide. This funding allows the courts to provide services for youth and families with substance abuse challenges, specifically those related to opioid abuse or co-occurring mental health disorders.
- Fiscal Year 2021–$26.1 million
- Fiscal Year 2020–$26.6 million
- Fiscal Year 2019–$19.8 million
- Fiscal Year 2018–$18.2 million
- Fiscal Year 2017–$12 million
From the Field
The Jefferson County (Colorado) Family Integrated Treatment Court helps clients establish sobriety and improve their parenting skills. Families typically spend 15-18 months in the program, although reunification between parents and children can occur at any point.
OJJDP funding allows the court to maintain a public health nurse on staff. The nurse coordinates healthcare for the families and ensures every child receives a developmental assessment. The funding also helps the court train and hire peer recovery specialists-parents and guardians who have demonstrated a sustained period of recovery-to support new clients.
Program evaluations found that children of participants who successfully complete the program spend less time in out-of-home care, are more likely to reunify with their parents, and are less likely to reentry the child welfare system. The Jefferson County Family Court is sharing its successes and lessons learned to help guide and improve practices in other drug courts.
- In Focus Fact Sheet: Drug Courts Updated 4/1/22
- Drug Courts Updated July 2022
- Juvenile Court Statistics, 2019
- Model Programs Guide: Drug Courts
- Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Drug Court
- Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Family Drug Courts
- Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Substance Use Prevention Programs
- National Juvenile Treatment Court Dashboard
- Opioid Affected Youth Initiative (OAYI) Website
- Supporting Youth and Families Impacted by Opioid Use