$2 Million of Federal Funds to Help Addicts and Families

Five-year grant will go to Family Treatment Drug Court Enhancement Initiative

Mike Baggerman
July 17, 2017 - 1:14 pm

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Erie County Family Courts is on the receiving end of a five-year federal grant of $2.125 million which will go to the Erie County Family Treatment Drug Court Enhancement Initiative.

The purpose of the money is to help families and addicts impacted by the opioid and addiction epidemic with an emphasis placed on effective treatment and family preservation.

"It could be for mental health counseling," Erie County Mental Health Commissioner Michael Ranney said. "It could be assistance and linkages with primary care providers as well as addiction. There may be pieces that provide education as well as prevention services for the entire family. Relapse prevention as well. It's going to bring a variety of tools and instruments to the family."

Congressman Brian Higgins announced the federal funding on Monday before leaving for Washington, D.C.

"The success of drug courts is undeniable," Higgins said. "Drug courts reduce crime, save money, and lives. Seventy-five percent of drug court graduates don't re-offend. It's estimated that $27 is returned for every dollar invested in drug court-related programs."

Erie County Family Court Judge Margaret Szczur is responsible for implementing the program into the courts. She explained that when the Erie County Drug Court first began 16 years ago, alcohol was the primary problem. Now, she said, 95% of individuals in the program come as a result of an opioid addiction.

"It's very difficult when you're telling people in court to change this and do this and send them back into their families with all the things that brought on their addiction to begin with and not adequately addressing it," she said. "We've tried and worked. This grant will give us the opportunity to do this even better."

The Erie County Family Treatment Drug Court Enhancement Initiative will allow for the incorporation of two evidence-based practices. The first is called "Celebrating Families" whic his a parenting skills training program for families where one of both parents have alcohol or drug problems and are at high-risk for domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect. The other practice is called "Connections" which integrates behavior and medical treatment providers into wrap-around services for families. 

LISTEN: Congressman Higgins introduces $2 million grant to help addicts and families

Drug Court $ - Presser RAW.mp3

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