Family drug court, family dependency drug court, dependency drug court, therapeutic jurisprudence


The rise in cases of child abuse and neglect over the past two decades has overwhelmed the nation’s dependency court and child welfare agencies. While multiple factors are associated with child abuse and neglect, it is indisputable that substance abuse plays a significant role. The families that come into the dependency system with substance abuse issues are substantially more difficult and challenging to serve. Consequently, the families experience low levels of reunification and high levels of child welfare recidivism. In response to the increase in dependency cases involving substance abuse and the inability of the traditional dependency courts (TDC) to handle these cases, Family Dependency Drug Courts (FDDC) were created. The study utilized Therapeutic Jurisprudence Theory to examine differences in child welfare outcomes between substance abusing individuals served in a traditional dependency court system versus the therapeutic jurisprudence driven Family Dependency Drug Court system. Logistic regression, ANOVA and Chi-square were performed on a non-random sample derived from court systems in two Central Florida counties to examine two child welfare outcomes, specifically reunification rates and child welfare recidivism. The findings indicate that substance using participants in the FDDC have much higher rates of reunification than comparable substance using participants processed through the traditional dependency court. Also, of the individuals who attended FDDC, iv those who graduated were reunified at a significantly higher rate than those that didn’t graduate. In regards to child welfare recidivism within a one year time period, there was not a statistically significant difference when comparing the FDDC participants and the TDC participants. When comparing the FDDC participants who completed the program versus those that failed to complete the program, while the child welfare recidivism rates were not significantly different, there is some evidence that the participants that completed the FDDC program experience less child welfare recidivism than those that don’t have the full experience of therapeutic jurisprudence. This research lends some support for both the FDDC program and the explanatory power of Therapeutic Jurisprudence Theory. Theoretical and policy implications, as well as further research, are proposed and discussed


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date





Reynolds, K. Michael


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Public Affairs








Release Date


Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs, Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic