Heard on the Street: Family Treatment Court

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Hear stories from a group of mothers who beat the odds by kicking their drug habits — with their children by their side. They recently graduated from a program in Washington, D.C.'s Family Treatment Court.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

We're going to end with the segment we call Heard on the Street. This is where we go out and find people making music, making sounds, being heard out in public. Today, we travel to a different kind of graduation ceremony at the Moultrie Courthouse in Washington, D.C. This ceremony is for the moms, a special group of moms.

Unidentified Woman: Daphina Jackson(ph).

(Soundbite of applause)

Unidentified Woman: Anika Taylor(ph).

(Soundbite of applause)

Unidentified Woman: Sheila (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of applause)

MARTIN: Decked out in graduation regalia, caps included, and beaming with pride, these mothers have beaten the odds. They've kicked their drug habits. They participated in a special drug treatment program that allows mothers to stay with their children while they get clean. Nine months later, it's graduation day. Here are some of the stories.

Ms. TALIA BROWN(ph): My name is Talia Brown, and I just graduated from the Family Treatment Court Program. I was a stay-at-home mom with my daughter, and I got kind of overwhelmed with everything that was going on, just problems, just like things, so I had a marijuana habit.

So they were called. They came in. They removed my child. So I came to court to make the effort to get her back, and I was informed that I could go to the Family Treatment Court Program, which is a program called mothers and children. And it's an in-patient substance abuse program. And you go there and they help with all aspects of life.

I mean, you get parenting classes, domestic violence classes, anger management, relapse prevention, drug education. And they get to learn a lot about you and your background, and they do whatever they can do to help you to move forward. They push you so that you never have to go backwards into what you came from -whatever your problem was that got you into this.

This is Vanessa Jones, and she was actually my roommate at (unintelligible).

Ms. VANESSA JONES: Yes.

Ms. BROWN: We got along very well. She baby-sitted for me, I baby-sitted for her. And we just shared, you know.

Ms. JONES: Yeah, we just shared. We shared everything. I got here 'cause the CFSA took my child, my one-year-old son. He was born with crack in his system 'cause I was using while I was pregnant with him. And I couldn't stay clean. I could not stay clean for the life of me and for my son, so they took - they removed him from our home.

The program we was in was pretty in a - it was in an uproar most of the time, and we made it kind of complicated sometimes by not doing what we're supposed to be, but we came across. I mean, we came all along. I used to like the late-night talks we used to have, sitting on the side of the bed. I used to love that. And when - even when we used to eat the food on the side of the bed, yeah, that was cool. We weren't supposed to be eating the food upstairs, so we would sneak in, but that was cool. We was talking and stuff. Yeah, that was all right.

Ms. TAQUITA HARSAW(ph): Hi. I'm Taquita Harsaw, and I'm a graduate of Family Treatment Court Program. I have five children. And my two youngest, they were with me at one point, but they're now back in foster care right now 'cause I'm still working on me. And it's been a struggle, but I have managed to get through. It has been a leap of faith, you know. And I'm really proud of myself today that I have made it this far.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) I've been up, and I've been down.

MARTIN: That was Talia Brown, Taquita Harshaw, and Vanessa Jones, graduates of the Family Court Drug Treatment Program in Washington, D.C. The Child and Family Services Ensemble performed at the graduation. They sang this song.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) So if go every day I've been through, I feel…

MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

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