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Program hopes to restore child custody rights to parents

Living with drug addiction is a constant struggle, both for the addict and his or her loved ones. When a parent becomes addicted to drugs, the safety and security of the child becomes the top priority. To that end, many addicted parents in Florida and other states lose their child custody rights, often to state authorities. That can be a devastating outcome to both parent and child and is a cause for concern. One state is trying a new approach to these cases and is hoping that restoring custody rights earlier rather than later can lead to positive outcomes for everyone involved.

The program is called "Best for Babies" and creates a team of professionals who work with parents to restore their child custody rights. The program was created based on research that suggests that children have a strong need to bond with their parents before the age of three, while they are going through critical stages of development. Participants are given the support of social workers, child development experts, attorneys and even judges.

Parents who are actively in treatment for their addiction are given the chance to have their child returned to their care, as long as they are following the rules of the program. Parents appear before a judge at regular intervals to check on their progress. When they need help connecting to resources for addiction or child services, social workers step in to assist. By the time they complete the program and receive their full custody rights back, parents have made significant strides toward addiction recovery and are able to provide a safe and stable home for their children.

Programs such as this one are not a good fit for all parents who have lost their child custody rights because of drug addiction. However, for those who are truly ready to make lasting changes in their lives and value their role as parents, having the support of a dedicated team can make all the difference. Parents in Florida who are facing similar custody challenges should make every effort to seek meaningful treatment for their addiction and build a strong support network to help them work toward reuniting with their children.  

Source: thenewstribune.com, "Can giving babies back sooner to parents in drug treatment be best? A court is trying it.", Alexis Krell, Aug. 15, 2017

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