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Dunn County receives $900,000 grant to enhance Family Treatment Court


MENOMONIE, Wis. -- Dunn County has received nearly $900,000 from the federal government to enhance services it offers through its Family Treatment Court.

“This additional money will allow us to increase the services that are available for families through our Family Treatment Court,” said Sara Benedict, criminal justice director for the county’s Criminal Justice Collaboration Division. “This is an important development for our program.”

The county recently learned that a three-year grant for $896,784 had been approved by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The term of the grant is Oct. 1, 2023-Sept. 30, 2026.

The Family Treatment Court serves individuals who are at risk of having their children removed due to child abuse or neglect, when alcohol or other substances contributed to the allegations. Parents who participate in the program receive substance use treatment, mental health services, are tested for drug and alcohol use, regularly meet with a Family Treatment Court team, attend court hearings and participate in other services as necessary.

Benedict said the federal grant will allow the county to take these and other services to the next level.

“We are going to be able to enhance the incentives that participants receive for meeting certain milestones,” Benedict said, as well as provide additional Family Treatment Court team time. For example, the county now will have more access to a substance abuse counselor from Arbor Place in Menomonie.

The team also will be expanded by adding a peer support liaison through a provider contract, Benedict said.

Other enhanced services include additional mental health therapist time; local, state and national training for the team on best practices; evidence-based interventions for participants and children; and enhanced drug testing.

Paula Winter, Director of Dunn County Human Services, said adding the certified peer support specialist and the mental health therapist to the team will help all participants in their recoveries.

“Adding these two positions will help to identify and support the participants’ needs in recovery,” she said. “When participants meet the program goals of recovery, it helps them demonstrate that they can safely parent their children. The best possible outcome is the safe reunification of children in their parent’s home.”

The grant also will allow the team to receive training that hasn’t been available because of a lack of funding, she said.

“With this new grant the team will be able to learn best practices along with new drug trends,” Winter said. “It is very important for the Family Treatment Court team to stay current with drug trends in order to monitor the potential use or relapse of the participants and hold them accountable.”

Benedict said the incentives offered to program participants can be as simple as receiving a gas card when the participant gets a job.

“We want them to be employed,” Benedict said, and a gas card rewards the kind of behavior the program encourages.

“Numerous families have been positively impacted by the collaboration between the county Department of Human Services and the Family Treatment Court by keeping children in their homes and reunifying parents with their children if they have been removed from the home,” said Melisa Berg, Family Treatment Court coordinator. “Parents are gaining the necessary skills and community supports to maintain sobriety and safely parent their children.”

The peer representative on the team “will serve as a liaison between FTC and other peer support service providers,” Berg added.

Lori Radcliffe, Dunn County Family and Children’s Services manager, said expanding the efforts of the Family Treatment Court is important because child welfare workers see that “addiction is at the core of most of the cases that come into the child welfare system.”

"The Dunn County Family Treatment Court Program provides hope and support to those who are struggling with addiction,” Radcliffe added.

The Family Treatment Court is one part of the county’s Criminal Justice Collaboration efforts that include a number of related programs, including the Treatment Opportunity Program and the Dunn County Treatment Court. More information is available at https://www.co.dunn.wi.us/cjcc.


Media release from Dunn County.

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