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A state tries new child custody approach to reunite families

When a parent is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, one of the biggest things that he or she stands to lose is parental rights. These types of child custody cases are among the most heart wrenching and difficult matters to come before family courts, in Maryland and across the nation. One state is working to find a way to reunite parents and children, and to combat the destruction of families that so often occurs when drug or alcohol addiction is a factor.

The program is known as "Best for Babies," but most people call it simply "Baby Court." The primary focus of the program is to help parents gain the addiction treatment they need and work toward reuniting with children who were removed from their care. The aim is to create a stable family unit that supports the needs of both parents and children.

To reach that goal, the court creates a team that includes attorneys, social workers, a judge and child development experts to assist the family in reaching a positive outcome. Parents who have completed drug addiction treatment are able to have their children returned to their care, under strict supervision guidelines. The team continues to monitor the family over time, with periodic appearances in court to check on the progress of all participants.

Those who complete the program as outlined are able to have their parental rights reinstated. Reaching that goal is an achievement of which they can be proud, and that pride can play a huge role in the larger addiction recovery process. Not every family is a good fit for these types of programs, but they offer a lifeline in cases where a parent is truly committed to making a change and providing a safe and stable home for their children. For those in Maryland who are struggling with addiction and child custody matters, it is important to take immediate legal action to secure parental rights.

Source:, "Can giving babies back sooner to parents in drug treatment be best? A court is trying it.," Alexis Krell, Aug. 15, 2017

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