Vermont Business Magazine Graduation ceremonies, it has been said, are as much a triumph for the family and friends of the student as for the student himself.
And so it was last October when David H., a participant in the Vermont Roots and Wings Alliance diversion program for criminal justice-involved individuals suffering from substance-use or mental-health disorders, celebrated the completion of his sentence and reintegration to the community surrounded by his family, treatment team and other supporters at the Chittenden County Addiction Treatment Court.
“To have his child, his partner, his mother and stepfather all in attendance made for more than a meaningful moment — this was a demonstration of family unification and solidarity,” said Roots and Wings Executive Director Fawn Montanye.“Each has been impacted and changed for the better, thanks to David's decision and commitment to recovery. A far better investment than incarceration.”
The mission of Vermont Roots and Wings Alliance is to improve the outcomes of Treatment Courts in Vermont by providing support for basic needs and access to resources that will assist participants suffering from the impact of systemic poverty, generational trauma and substance-use disorders by helping remove the barriers to participating in Treatment Court.
Vermont Treatment Court dockets have been in existence since 2002 and serve criminal justice-involved individuals who have a moderate to severe substance use disorder and who are at high risk of reoffending if their substance use and/or mental health disorder remains untreated. The dockets are operated by a team of professionals, made up of a judicial officer, a defense and prosecuting attorney, probation and parole and clinical case managers and treatment providers. Together, this team develops individualized treatment plans and monitors participant’s progress.
If a participant is successful, their criminal charges are reduced or dismissed, and the taxpayer saves many hundreds of thousands of dollars as the participant avoids incarceration. Likewise, community safety is increased as participants enter recovery, refrain from committing future crimes and become contributing members of the community. Equally important, the family unit is treated holistically, receiving support necessary to navigate the changes to support successful reintegration of their loved one in the home and in the community.
Vermont Roots and Wings Alliance was first envisioned by the team as a way of helping to ensure that the mission of Vermont’s Treatment Courts is realized. Many Treatment Court participants' lives today are impacted by generational substance use disorders and poverty. The Treatment Court docket is a highly structured, intentionally demanding program requiring participants to prioritize treatment above all other life demands. There are many current gaps that Vermont Roots and Wings intends to fill through three distinct programs to maintain best practices: participant support, program quality and contingency management.