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A child custody approach to reuniting parents and children

When a Pennsylvania parent is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, the end result can be a loss of parental rights. In some cases, however, child custody rights are taken away before a parent has the opportunity to complete a thorough addiction recovery program. When those parents get clean, they may face an uphill battle in restoring their right to raise their children. One state is approaching this issue with a creative program that is achieving impressive results.

The program is called "Best for Babies," and places the extensive resources of state and county officials in the service of reuniting divided families. Parents who have completed significant progress in an addiction recovery program are offered the opportunity to have their children returned to their care. A team of professionals, including the judge, attorneys, social workers and child development experts, are all aligned to assist parents in providing a safe and stable environment for their children.

Participants appear in court at regular intervals to provide progress reports and updates. Once all professionals agree that the parent has displayed the ability to provide a safe and stable home for their child, parental rights are restored. That step is a significant achievement in the path from addiction to recovery.

While states have an obligation to protect children from harm, the ultimate goal of child protective services is to reunite parents and children whenever possible. Through programs such as this, parents who struggle with addiction are given a chance to raise their children in a safe and loving environment. Pennsylvania parents facing similar challenges should take advantage of any and all available resources to reach a similar outcome in their own child custody cases.

Source:, "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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