Family Treatment Court – An Innovative, Collaborative Alternative to Standard Dependency Court

Family Treatment Court (FTC) in King County is a voluntary, intensive alternative to regular dependency court for parents for whom substance use is central to their dependency case, and who can benefit from a more intensive, less adversarial court process. County dependency drug courts vary widely and don’t exist in most counties. Parents who opt into FTC agree to engage in an individualized, intensive treatment plan that includes more frequent review hearings. In regular dependency court, review hearings occur roughly once every six months. In FTC, parents begin with weekly court appearances that lessen in frequency when they progress through different phases of the program. This allows them to develop a relationship and rapport with the Judge, something which rarely happens in regular dependency court and is immensely beneficial to reunification. Each family has an FTC team where all members stay in the loop about their progress and provide input on their service plan and the Judge’s messaging for review hearings. Case staffings occur every morning before review hearings where all team members, including the Judge, meet to discuss the case and develop the most effective plan for the case moving forward and for that week’s hearing.

King County FTC is an innovative program that serves as a model for treatment courts nationwide. Because FTC only accepts families upon referrals made no later than six months from the dependency petition filing date, it is critical that attorneys, social workers or others identify good possible fits to the program early on in the life of a family’s dependency case. FTC has immense benefits and high success rates, but is not for everybody. Parents must be truly committed to a more intensive, transparent, and collaborative process in their case, and must be ready to hold themselves accountable in their recovery journey. If chemically dependent parents know that they need and are ready for a more intensive, individualized dependency court process, FTC may be an excellent fit for them.

For more information about King County FTC, click here.

If you have questions about dependency cases or family treatment court, you can also email us at or call at 206-926-9848.


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