Manhattan Family Treatment Court


Launched in 1998, the Manhattan Family Treatment Court addresses the problems of children neglected by substance-abusing parents or guardians. The court is one of the first of its kind in the nation. The Treatment Court enrolls addicted parents in treatment and rigorously monitors their performance. The Court also improves service delivery by exchanging timely information about parents and their children with the social service agencies responsible for monitoring the placement of children. Improved communication also enhances the judge's ability to make informed decisions about custody and foster care issues, enabling children to move forward and gain stability in their lives as quickly as possible. In 2001, the demonstrated effectiveness of the program led to its institutionalization by the New York State Unified Court System, which has assumed total administrative oversight of the treatment court.

How It Works

Key features of the Family Treatment Court model are:

Dedicated Team: The Court is presided over by a permanently assigned judge operating out of a single courtroom. The judge is assisted by a team of court-based case managers who link clients to services and provide consistent monitoring.

Services: On-site support groups enhance parental engagement in the recovery process. A comprehensive network of community-based service providers provides treatment and other services to drug-addicted parents and their children.

Monitoring: The Court requires frequent appearances by parents to monitor progress. The Court responds to progress and failure in treatment by using a set of graduated sanctions and rewards, which provide consequences for parental conduct.


The Court works in collaboration with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, Legal Aid Society and Assigned Counsel Panel. Funding has been provided by the New York State Unified Court System, New York Community Trust, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Bernard and Alva Gimbel Foundation, Ilma Klein Foundation and the federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

Featured Research


Michael Botticelli: Community Justice 2014

Michael Botticelli: Community Justice 2014

In his keynote address at Community Justice 2014, Michael Botticelli, acting director of The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, explains that he doesn't like the nickname "Drug Czar" because it connotes a militaristic "war on drugs" response to substance-use disorders. Botticelli, who has a background in public health and is in long-term recovery himself, feels that the problem of addiction is "fundamentally a public health issue" and that "you can't incarcerate addiction out of people.... We need to have a more compassionate and effective response."


Testing the Cost Savings of Judicial Diversion

Testing the Cost Savings of Judicial Diversion

By Mark S. Waller, Shannon M. Carey, Erin Farley and Michael Rempel

Rockefeller Drug Law Reform, adopted in April 2009, eliminated mandatory prison sentences in New York State for most felony drug offenders and sought to link more felony-level drug and property offenders to treatment. This study looked at the impact of judicial diversion, finding that the new law increased court-ordered treatment participation; reduced incarceration and recidivism among those treated; and increased savings.

Listen to an interview with study co-author Shannon M. Carey

Read a summary of the study


From Drug Court to Classroom: Creating a Court to College Program (Practitioners Manual)

From Drug Court to Classroom: Creating a Court to College Program (Practitioners Manual)

By Corey Calabrese, Valerie Raine and Gregg Roth

This Practitioners Manual provides step-by-step guidance for drug court teams looking to help participants pursue higher education. The other three manuals provide support for participants, interns, and trainers.

  • New York
  • 520 8th Avenue
  • 18th Floor
  • New York, NY 10018
  • phone: 646.386.3100
  • Syracuse
  • One Park Place
  • 300 South State Street
  • Syracuse, NY 13202
  • phone: 315.266.4330
  • London
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  • London, WC2B 4AS
  • phone: +44 2076.329.060