Press Release

Press Release  Trial Court Launches Family Treatment Courts in the Juvenile Court

For immediate release:
  • Executive Office of the Trial Court
  • Juvenile Court

Media Contact   for Trial Court Launches Family Treatment Courts in the Juvenile Court

Jennifer Donahue and Erika Gully-Santiago

BOSTON, MAThe Massachusetts Trial Court today marked the statewide launch of Family Treatment Court sessions in the Juvenile Court with an event in the Great Hall of the John Adams Courthouse. These new court sessions will address the critical needs of families with cases in the Juvenile Court statewide where substance use is a contributing factor in the case.

PATHS (Prevention and Treatment for the Health and Safety of Children and Families) Family Treatment Courts are non-adversarial, collaborative court sessions working with child protective services, substance use and mental health treatment professionals, and community partners to coordinate services with the goals of ensuring that children have safe, nurturing, and permanent homes, parents achieve stable recovery, and that each family member receives needed services and support.  

Speakers included Trial Court Chief Justice Heidi E. Brieger; Trial Court Administrator Thomas G. Ambrosino; Juvenile Court Chief Justice Amy L. Nechtem; and Alexis Balkey, Program Manager for the Center for Children and Family Futures, the national training and technical assistance provider for family treatment courts. A short video created by staff and graduates of the Franklin County Family Treatment Court was presented.

“Families across the Commonwealth will benefit from the opening of Family Treatment Courts in the Juvenile Court,” said Trial Court Chief Justice Brieger. “These programs use a collaborative approach to address the needs of parents with substance use disorders, as well as to protect their children throughout the Care and Protection process.”

“We are pleased to expand our specialty courts to Family Treatment Courts,” said Trial Court Administrator Ambrosino. “The Trial Court is committed to implementing evidence-based strategies to address the needs of children and families affected by substance use disorder, mental health issues and trauma.” 

The PATHS Family Treatment Court opened in the Hampden County Juvenile Court in Springfield in December 2023. It is the first for the Juvenile Court and the second in the state, following a successful program in the Franklin County Probate & Family Court. The Family Treatment Court expansion into the Juvenile Court was made possible by a $1.5 million grant awarded to the Trial Court from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to develop and implement family treatment courts across the state.

“PATHS Family Treatment Courts are an example of twenty-first century collaborative efforts to build community capacity so that each child grows up in a safe and stable home,” said Juvenile Court Chief Justice Nechtem.

The PATHS Family Treatment Court initiative is a collaboration of the Massachusetts Trial Court, the Department of Children and Families, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services and Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition, the Massachusetts Center of Excellence for Specialty Courts, and local treatment, recovery, and family support providers.

Research cited by the Center for Children and Family Futures shows that family treatment courts assist parents in entering treatment more quickly, staying in treatment longer, and completing treatment at higher rates when compared with conventional child welfare and dependency court interventions; increase the likelihood of reunification of children and parents with no effect on the risk of repeat maltreatment or reentry into the child welfare system; and reduce the amount of time that children spend in out-of-home care and the amount of time to get children to permanent homes.

There are currently over 60 specialty court sessions in the Commonwealth focused on issues including substance use disorders, mental health conditions, veterans issues, and family recovery and dispute resolution.


Media Contact   for Trial Court Launches Family Treatment Courts in the Juvenile Court

  • Executive Office of the Trial Court 

    The Executive Office of the Trial Court facilitates communication and enables joint leadership of the Trial Court by the Chief Justice of the Trial Court and the Court Administrator.
  • Juvenile Court 

    The Juvenile Court Department oversees civil and criminal matters statewide involving children including youthful offender, care and protection, and delinquency cases.
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