YORK, Pa. — It's an alarming number, one in three children in York County’s Children, Youth and Family services are there because a parent has a drug problem.
This week, York County launched a family wellness court with the goal of uniting treatment and eventually families back together.
It's a massive problem plaguing families and the court system, drugs, and what to do with the children affected by their parent’s bad decisions.
“We have kids who are strapped in the car seat in the backseat with the parents overdosing in the front seat. We have children being sent on drug deals,” said Kathleen Prendergast, York County judge.
This is the new norm. But the child welfare system was originally set up to help kids being physically abused. Enter the York County Family Wellness Court.
Starting this week, Judge Kathleen Prendergast can offer parents volunteering for the program different option for treatment, while assessing the kids affected and getting them the type of services that will keep them safe and stop the cycle of substance abuse.
“It can completely change the direction of an entire family or child's life and save lives,” she said.
At this point, the program is expected to start small and hopefully grow as it proves to be successful. It’s not costing any extra tax dollars. Officials are redistributing money from other programs to fund this for the year.