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Program seeks to restore parents' child custody rights

Struggling through drug or alcohol addiction is a scenario that many Georgia families face. One common result of addiction is a loss of parental rights. In many cases, parents lose their child custody rights when their children are placed into protective custody by state authorities. That can be heartbreaking for both parents and children alike, and is an outcome that a court system in one state is trying to avoid.

The program is called "Best for Babies," but most people simply refer to it as "Baby Court." It is a pilot program that aims to reunite parents who are struggling with addiction with children who have been removed from their care. The program takes a team approach, and combines the resources of the judge, attorneys, social workers and experts in child development. All of those parties are focused on the shared goal of reuniting parents and children in a safe and stable home environment.

Parents enter the program after having completed significant addiction treatment. They are allowed to have their children in their care, and appear in court at regular intervals for progress reports. After a period of time, and when all support professionals agree that conditions are appropriate, parents receive full child custody rights. That marks a significant achievement in their path to recovery.

Programs like this one are not suitable for all families, but can make a world of difference in cases where parents are serious about overcoming addiction and restoring their child custody rights. At the end of the day, child protective services workers strive to reunite families whenever possible. Programs such as this one can make that goal a reality. For those in Georgia who are facing similar custody challenges, it is important to take an aggressive path toward restoring parental rights.

Source: thenewstribune.com, "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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