"Our abuse, neglect, and dependency docket is dominated by cases in which the parents have become involved with children's services agencies because they have problems, and at the moment predominately with heroin," Delaware County Probate/Juvenile Court Judge David Hejmanowski said.
The rate, according to Judge Hejmanowski, ranges from 80 to 90 percent of the juvenile and probate cases. While Delaware County has court and treatment programs to address the issue, the judge said there's more that can be learned from what other counties are doing. That's why he put together a team of community partners to attend the 2015 Judicial Symposium on Addiction and Child Welfare on June 23 in Columbus.
"Sitting in a room where we can discuss with other counties and other communities what they're doing, what they have found to be successful, so that we can share with them what has been successful for us, is incredibly important to us and incredibly helpful to us because it's that one-on-one communication about what works," Judge Hejmanowski said.
Judges from 56 Ohio counties and their community partners attended the one-day symposium presented by the Ohio Supreme Court, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and hosted by the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities.
Attendees heard from state and national leaders addressing the intersection of addiction, child welfare, and court systems. The event also highlighted promising practices and programs throughout Ohio where community partners are coming together to positively impact children and their parents.
A final request for the participants at the close of the symposium encouraged the countywide teams to continue the day's discussion and implement the action plans that were developed.
"Without a commitment from each of us, the addiction battle will be lost. This fight will only be as successful as our local leaders on the frontlines make it," Ohio Supreme Court Judicial Services Director Milt Nuzum said.