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Dozens Graduate From Sacramento Juvenile Dependency Drug Court

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Nearly 90 people graduated Tuesday from the Sacramento County Dependency Drug Court program.

The program gives parents who have drug problems, and who have had their children taken away, a chance to get clean, learn coping skills and reunite with their children.

The courts, the probation department, Behavioral Health Services, Child Protective Services and a non-profit organization called Specialized Treatment and Recovery Services are partners in the program.

Sharon DiParro-Beard is the Mental Health Program Coordinator for the county.

"It isn't a slam dunk if you graduate this court you get your children back," says DiParro-Bear. "That is not how Child Welfare works. But, I will tell you about 80 percent of these people who do graduate have reunified with their children."

A graduate named Marisa says she had been unaware how her drug use was affecting her and her family.

"I didn't realize I was going to have to do a lot of soul-searching," she says. "The reasons why I ended up in that position is because I was unaware of who I was and my purpose in life and I took life for granted."

Marisa says the program evolved for her, from passing drug tests to changing her life.

"When I started going to court and I started doing the work that was required and I started doing STARS and going to the meetings and doing everything I was supposed to be doing, that's when a transformation really took place and I was able to just look at myself and look at what was going on in my life and just wanting more than what was happening," she says.

Marisa is now looking for a retail, clerical or administrative position.

The county's reunification percentage for families that had been torn apart by drugs was 18 percent in the year 2000.

The reunification rate is now more than 50 percent.

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