Programming and Grants
The Programming and Grants Division oversees court support services and programs including Evidence-Based Programs, Family Preservation and Program Development. The Grants Management Department administers a portfolio of grants that support the Accountability Courts, evidence-based programs to youth on probation and resources to address educational neglect.
The Programs Unit
Fulton County Juvenile Court receives funding to provide evidence-based services to youth on probation. The Juvenile Justice Incentive Grant (JJIG) program is designed to reduce both juvenile felony commitments to the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and short-term program admissions through the use of evidence-based programs shown to reduce recidivism and to promote a positive relationship among the youth, their families and their communities. The JJIG funds aggression replacement training, multisystemic therapy and trauma focused cognitive behavior therapy services.
The Family Preservation Unit
The Family Preservation Unit implements and connects court and community-based programs and services to youth and families served by the court. The Unit supports the mission of the court by engaging community partners and service providers as well as the youth and their parents to strengthen families. The Unit also assists with programming for the court’s employees.
The Community Resource Guide provides information on evidence-based juvenile programs and services that deliver components of recommended best practices and offer specialized services to specific populations of youth. This helpful tool is used by court staff, youth and families and is categorized by educational assistance, mental health counseling, mentoring, leadership services and community engagement.
Appropriate programs are matched with youth based on risk levels, needs and types of services, while ensuring the incorporation of therapeutic approaches, cognitive-behavioral therapies, counseling, skills training and family support.
Children in Need of Services (CHINS) Unit
The Children in Need of Services (CHINS) Unit proactively works with pre-adjudicated youth to eliminate and reduce formal court involvement by offering resources and services on the front-end. The CHINS Unit collaborates with internal and external service providers and community partners to effectively address status offense behaviors with guidance from CHINS Social Services Coordinators. The CHINS social services coordinators provide individualized case management services which include: status offense consultations, needs assessments, advocacy, referrals to vetted service providers, and follow-up and monitoring of case plans over 30, 60, 90 day periods to maximize the impact to every child.
Family Dependency Treatment Court
The Family Treatment Court is a collaborative effort of the Fulton County Juvenile Court, Department of Family and Children Services, its legal counsel, the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, the Parent Attorney Office, the Child Attorney Office, and numerous treatment providers.
The Family Treatment Court is a voluntary program established by the Fulton County Juvenile Court as an alternative to the adversarial approach traditionally used in dependency cases which involve the participation of parents who have been drug dependent and in need of drug treatment and rehabilitation counseling services.
This intervention model used by the Family Treatment Court consists of interrelated components that, when combined, have resulted in the preservation of the removal of children from their homes or reunification of families with enhanced permanency in the lives of children while effectively addressing the underlying disease of chemical dependency of the participants.
The participants are required to attend court frequently and are subject to intensive supervision with input from a multidisciplinary team of professionals led by the judge. The team works together to provide a highly structured and coordinated approach to treating the parent’s disease of substance abuse and addressing parenting deficits which resulted from such abuse, while simultaneously ensuring participants are accountable for their choices and behavior.
The mission of the Family Treatment Court is to preserve the family through court intervention by fostering the reunification of families, to improve the quality of life by effectively connecting participants with resources to lead sober and clean lives, maintain healthy relationships and positive outcomes in the areas of education, job training and community connections resulting in sustained sobriety and reduction of the number of children who must be removed from the home to ensure their safety in the future.
To be eligible for participation in Family Dependency Treatment Court, prospective clients must meet the following program and clinical criteria:
The parent must:
- Reside in Fulton County, have an active case in Juvenile Court and be a legal parent, who is the primary caregiver of a child 12 years of age or younger
- Have no prior substantiated reports of child physical or sexual abuse; and
- Have dependency/CHINS allegations arising from substance abuse or dependence
The parent must have:
- The ability to participate actively in the substance abuse treatment program as directed by the substance abuse treatment provider and the court
- No significant mental health disorders that would impede the parent’s ability to participate actively in treatment
- No chronic or terminal medical conditions requiring extensive medical treatment that would limit the parent’s ability to participate actively in treatment
- No violent behavior that may put the parent or the Family Dependency Treatment Court participants at risk of injury because of the parent’s participation in the program
The Family Dependency Treatment Court’s program is divided into four individualized phases with a progressive focus on treatment and rehabilitation.
- Freshmen: this phase involves weekly court sessions, consistent treatment attendance, 12 to 18 weeks of negative drug screens and compliance with sanctions and recommendations from the treatment provider, DFCS and Family Dependency Treatment Court team.
- Sophomore: this phase involves court sessions every other week, consistent treatment attendance, 12 to 18 weeks of negative drug screens, compliance with sanctions and recommendations from treatment providers, DFCS and the Family Dependency Treatment Court team, and consultation with health care professionals regarding family planning issues.
- Junior: this phase involves court sessions every three weeks, consistent treatment attendance, 12 to 18 weeks of negative drug screens and compliance with sanctions and recommendations from treatment providers, DFCS and the Family Dependency Treatment Court team.
- Senior: this phase involves monthly court sessions, 12 to 18 weeks of negative drug screens, a relapse prevention plan and the completion of all graduation requirements, such as obtaining housing and employment.
The Family Dependency Treatment Court is a collaborative effort between: Fulton County Juvenile Court, DFCS and its legal counsel, Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Disabilities, the Child Advocacy Attorney, the Parent Attorney, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), the Center for Health and Rehabilitation (CHR), youthSpark, St. Jude’s Recovery, the Mary Hall Freedom House and My Sister’s House / Atlanta Union Mission.
Juvenile Drug Court (C.H.O.I.C.E.S.)
Choosing Healthy Options Increases Confidence, Excellence and Success (CHOICES) is the name of the Fulton County Juvenile Drug Accountability Court Program. Drug courts integrate alcohol and other evidence-based treatment services with juvenile justice case processing.
CHOICES is a highly structured, non-adversarial, team-based approach, 12 – 24 month voluntary intervention program for moderate to high-risk youth, who have been assessed to have a substance use disorder and/or be dependent upon alcohol. CHOICES strives to reduce substance use and recidivism of participants through evidence-based treatment services. CHOICES seeks to empower participants to make better choices by encouraging family and community support.
CHOICES utilizes interventions focusing on intensive substance use treatment and probation supervision, with frequent court appearances, educational support, random drug testing, mentoring, and individual, group and family counseling. The Court awards incentives for compliant behavior and imposes graduated sanctions for negative behavior.
Youth who meet the following criteria should be referred to drug court (A youth does not have to meet all criteria to be referred):
- 14 – 17 years of age
- Resident of Fulton County
- Youth Assessment Screening Instrument (YASI) score of medium to high risk for substance use
- Pre-disposed Risk Assessment (PDRA) score of medium to high risk for substance use
- Self-report or parent report of substance use
- Drug related offenses
- Multiple positive drug screens
Youth with significant mental health disorders, significant developmental delays or those with chronic or terminal medical conditions are not good candidates for Juvenile Drug Court.
Using the framework identified by Juvenile Drug Court: Strategies in Practice, CHOICES is a four (4) phase Accountability Court Program. Participants must complete the requires of each phase before applying to the next phase. Throughout all phases, participants submit to random drug screening a minimum of 2 times per week, participant in evidence-based treatment and receive community-based surveillance services and educational support.
- Freshman (Assessment Phase): The goal of this phase is to complete the assessments needed to develop comprehensive case and treatment plans and to acquaint participants with the program.
- Sophomore (Engagement Phase): In this phase, participants begin to structure their time and focus on attending treatment, appearing in court, attending court programs and on being accountable.
- Junior (Change Phase): The goal of this phase is for participants to begin applying the skills they learn in treatment to avoid substance use, make better decisions, develop positive life skills, replace negative behaviors, improve school attendance and grades.
- Senior (Empowered Phase): Participants focus on maintaining positive behaviors and develop a Relapse Prevention Plan that will help them to identify and overcome triggers. Participants also begin their step-down process and identify a continued care program.
After completing all phases, participants will graduate. After successful completion of the program, participants can petition the Court to have their Juvenile Court records sealed.
C.H.O.I.C.E.S. is a collaborative effort between the Juvenile Court, the District Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Public Defender, the Juvenile Court Probation Department, the Juvenile Court Education Advocate Department, the Fulton County Child Attorney’s Office, treatment providers, family, mentors and various community organizations. Parent or legal custodian involvement in the program is vital to the success of the participant and the program.
The Alternative Solutions Creating Excellence Not Detention (ASCEND) Program launched in March 2022. The ASCEND Program seeks to reduce recidivism and foster rehabilitation amongst high-risk youth in the community through the implementation of evidence-based programs, facilitated in an accountability court model.
By partnering with community stakeholders, ASCEND implements intensive and judicially monitored evidence-based programs and strategies for youth who are at risk of commitment to DJJ or secure confinement.
The ASCEND Program offers intensive supervision and case monitoring services. Participants are required to attend bi-weekly court status review hearings. ASCEND provides evidence-based programming such as Aggression Replacement Training (ART), Victim Impact, individual and family counseling services to facilitate behavior modification and improve decision-making skills. Parents are also required to participant in treatment services.
ASCEND may accept youth who meet the following criteria:
- Fulton County resident
- 14-16 year of age
- Class A and B Felony Adjudications OR Non-Final
- Commitment to DJJ Disposition
- Moderate to high PDRA score (2+)
- Medium to high YASI
- Pre- or Post-disposition (Post-disposition 90 days or less)
ASCEND, Alternative Solutions Creating Excellence Not Detention, is a 10 to 12 month, four (4) phase Accountability Court structured program. Participants are required to attend bi-weekly status review hearings in each phase.
- Freshman Phase: In this orientation phase, participants complete all required assessments, treatment and case plans, focus on attending treatment, appear in court and other court-ordered programming.
- Sophomore Phase: In this phase, participants focus on maintaining treatment and charting a path toward attaining other goals. The phase lasts 10 to 12 weeks.
- Junior Phase: In this phase, participants will focus on developing healthy life skills designed to help them function better in the community.
- Senior Phase: In this phase, participants focus on behavior sustainability and continuing to use the skills and tools gained in the previous phases.
The goals of the ASCEND Program are to: reduce the number of youths committed to DJJ or secure confinement; decrease recidivism, increase protective factors for social emotional skills, increase innovative and meaningful opportunities for youth and to increase meaningful family engagement. Therefore, ASCEND utilizes a collaborative multidisciplinary team approach between the District Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Public Defender, the Juvenile Court’s Programming and Grants, Probation, and Court and Family Services Departments, the Fulton County Child Attorney’s Office, treatment providers, mentors, and various community organizations. Parent or legal custodian involvement in the program is vital to the success of the participant and the program.
Some of the court’s internship are managed by the Division. The Division hosts internships and externships for rising undergraduate juniors and seniors and graduate students from accredited universities/colleges. Students seeking an internship should be in good standing with their university/college and have a suggested minimum GPA of 3.0 (or the equivalent on a different grading scale). Students seeking a field placement for academic course credit must meet the university/college’s minimum requirements to participate in an externship placement.
Some of the court’s volunteer opportunities are also managed by the Division. Volunteer opportunities are generally not tied to an educational program (such as a college), and approved members of the public are able to participate. The Division also manages volunteering opportunities set up for the court’s onsite partners.