The Massachusetts Trial Court has been awarded a five-year federal grant totaling $2.1 million to address the impact of opioid, other substance use and co-occurring disorders on families in rural western Massachusetts. Franklin County's 71,000 residents have been hard hit by the opioid crisis, and often struggle to access substance use and mental health treatment.

The grant will be used to expand the current efforts of the Franklin/Hampshire Juvenile Court and Franklin Division of the Probate and Family Court’s Family Drug Court, the first of its kind in Massachusetts. The Franklin County Family Drug Court has served 18 recovering parents, 26 children and 23 caregivers since it opened in the summer of 2016. The grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will enable the Family Drug Court to expand its use of the MISSION treatment model for 175 parents, 240 children and 180 caregivers.

“This historic collaboration between the Massachusetts Trial Court, the Franklin Division of the Probate and Family Court’s Family Drug Court, the Franklin/Hampshire Juvenile Court, University of Massachusetts Medical School, the Center of Excellence for Specialty Courts, state substance use and mental health authorities, and our local treatment partners, will bolster the region’s continuum of substance abuse and mental health treatment services for years to come,” said Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey.

“On a daily basis in my courtroom, I see the devastating impact of substance use upon parents, their children, and other family members,” said Franklin County Probate and Family Court First Justice Beth Crawford, who presides over the Family Drug Court. “This infusion of resources will allow us to develop a responsive and trauma informed system of care that will offer hope and help as families pursue their recovery.”

MISSION is based on Maintaining Independence and Sobriety through Systems Integration, Outreach and Networking-Criminal Justice (MISSION-CJ), an evidence-based treatment model that has been successfully tested in other SAMHSA funded projects in Massachusetts, including veterans’ treatment courts in Boston and Dedham in 2014 and 2015, and Drug Courts in Quincy and Barnstable District Courts in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The MISSION treatment model is an evidence-based team approach that has been shown to reduce recidivism and homelessness, improve mental health, decrease substance use and increase steady employment for those participating in the Trial Court’s current MISSION-based programs. 

University of Massachusetts Medical School will act as the evaluator to ensure fidelity to the MISSION model. The effort aligns with the goals of SAMSHA’s Trauma and Justice Strategic Initiative and the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Guidance to States for Family Drug Courts.