Press Release

Press Release  Trial Court Opens Family Treatment Court in Springfield

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

Media Contact   for Trial Court Opens Family Treatment Court in Springfield

Jennifer Donahue and Erika Gully-Santiago

BOSTON, MAThe Massachusetts Trial Court today marked the launch of an innovative Family Treatment Court session at the Hampden County Juvenile Court in Springfield with an opening event at the courthouse. The new court session will address the critical needs of families with cases in the Juvenile Court where parental substance use is a primary or contributing factor in the case.

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

Speakers at the event included Juvenile Court Chief Justice Amy Nechtem; Juvenile Court Judge Carol Shaw; Dr. Lili Peacock-Chambers, a pediatrician and the Chief of the Division of Health and Behavior in the Department of Healthcare Delivery and Population Sciences at Baystate Health; and a family treatment court graduate.

“Family Treatment Courts provide an example of twenty-first century thinking about child welfare, changing the way we do the important work of building community capacity and ensuring each child grows up in a safe and stable home,” said Juvenile Court Chief Justice Amy L. Nechtem.

The Family Treatment Court in Springfield is the first of its kind for the Juvenile Court and is the second in the state. The state’s first Family Treatment Court session started as a pilot program at the Franklin County Probate and Family Court in Greenfield in 2016. The Family Treatment Court session was made possible by a $1.5 million grant awarded to the Juvenile Court from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to develop and implement family treatment courts across the state as part of the Pathways initiative.

Family Treatment Courts are non-adversarial, collaborative special court sessions that work 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 the services and supports needed. 

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 60 specialty court sessions in the Commonwealth focused on substance use disorders (drug and recovery courts), mental health conditions (mental health courts), veterans’ issues (veterans treatment courts), and family recovery and dispute intervention.


Media Contact   for Trial Court Opens Family Treatment Court in Springfield

  • Massachusetts Court System 

    The Massachusetts court system consists of the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, the Executive Office of the Trial Court, the 7 Trial Court departments, the Massachusetts Probation Service, and the Office of Jury Commissioner.
  • 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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