AKRON -- May is National Drug Court Month, a designation established to raise awareness of the need for drug courts across the United States. Nowhere is that more evident than at the Summit County Juvenile Court.
The Summit County Juvenile Court maintains the Crossroads Program and the Family Re-Unification Through Recovery Court. Both programs are certified by the Ohio Supreme Court as specialized dockets, grounded in community collaboration and seek to strengthen the resolve of those in treatment to achieve recovery, according to court officials.
Summit County Juvenile Court Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio implemented the Crossroads Program when she became juvenile court judge in 2003. Research indicates that more than 80 percent of youth battling substance abuse also suffer from some form of mental health issue as well. Teodosio's approach was to create a single co-occurring docket addressing both.
The Crossroads Program has become a model for other Juvenile courts in Ohio and across the nation. Youth must achieve goals to advance in the program, while testing clean. There is a family element that must also be satisfied as part of the treatment. It normally takes a youth and the family about a year to navigate through the program. Once all goals are achieved, the youth graduates.
"The recognition is appreciated, because it affirms that what we are doing is viewed as making a difference," Teodosio said. "But our primary goal will always be providing youth and their families the necessary treatment to successfully move through the program and for the youth to remain sober once they leave Crossroads."
Remaining sober and strengthening the family is at the core of the Family Re-Unification Through Recovery Court. Established in 2014, the FRRC docket seeks to reunite a family that has had children removed from a home due to substance misuse. Summit County Children Services and FRRC staff alert the juvi court that the case may be appropriate for the FRRC docket. Once reviewed and approved, a parent enters the program and begins the work of recovery.
With the daunting issue of heroin and other drug abuse reaching epidemic proportions in Summit County, the mission of the FRRC has never been more necessary. Like Crossroads, once program requirements are satisfied, the parent graduates from the program. The ultimate success story is when a parent maintains sustained sobriety and reunites with his or her children.
In 2015, the Ohio Department of Youth Services honored the FRRC and one of its participants with the Thomas J. Strickrath Re-Entry Award. In three years, there have been 20 graduates from the FRRC docket and there are currently 14 individuals participating.
A father-friendly event
Teodosio and the juvenile court will also host the second-annual Father Friendly Community Event June 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron (rain or shine).
The first 1,000 attendees will be treated to a free lunch. Free admission and free parking will be provided. Free rides on any regular Metro RTA line-service busses will be offered to fathers and families from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The free fare does not apply to Metro Scat, Call-A- Bus or Northcoast Express Services.
The first 100 Father Friendly Community Event attendees to visit the Akron Children's Museum will be offered free admission. The Akron Children's Museum is also located at Lock 3 Park. The event is being coordinated by a collaborative of non-profit and government agencies.
"This overwhelming level of community support is indicative that a true cultural shift, in support of fatherhood involvement, is happening here in Summit County," Teodosio said. "As the number of community partners grow, so will the event audience. This year, we are expecting a mixed crowd of 1,000 to attend this affordable, fun and friendly, summertime event."
The afternoon will feature costumed characters, family activities, a game truck, give-a-ways, inflatables, live entertainment and more. Those in attendance will also have an opportunity to visit with exhibitors and learn more about the various programs and services being made available to fathers and families throughout Summit County.
"This pre-Father's Day event provides area dads with an excellent opportunity to discuss their parental concerns with knowledgeable and trusted professionals who are leading the responsible fatherhood movement across Summit County," Teodosio said. "Such discussions are key to breaking down barriers to fatherhood involvement."