Muskingum County Family Dependency Court Graduates Member from Program

Local News

MUSKINGUM COUNTY, Ohio – Emotions were strong at Muskingum County Juvenile Courts as the Family Dependency Court graduated one of its members. 

Family Dependency Court, a program introduced to the county by Judge Eric Martin, is a program that works with struggling addicts in the Muskingum county region – helping them complete the requirements needed to reunite with their children and families. 

Muskingum County’s foster care system has the 12th highest admittance as of 2022, and most children in the program are entered through child protective services after being removed from a home where drugs are abused. The program provides a place for addicts to work with a variety of resources while being continuously drug-tested, allowing the process of regaining custody of their children to be expedited.

WHIZ had the chance to speak with four of the program participants; Stephanie Campfield, Robin Jones, Shantae Snodgrass and Ashley Evans. The four women spoke about the bond they had formed through the program and how invaluable it was to have the chance to redeem their actions in hopes of reuniting with their children. Campfield stated it was important for them to realize that “children’s services is not against you” and Evans added on that the program provided them “ the foundation and structure of where they need to be.”

Robin Jones, a participant in the program since this February, talked about the value this program has on her life and what the program provides for those seeking medical and emotional support through the addiction recovery process.

“I never thought I’d get this far this fast – and that anybody would really care, you know? Normally you think of Children’s Services and Courts – you are just fighting, fighting, fighting. But not with this. I mean, with this program – they want to give you your kids back; they want you to succeed. They will be your biggest cheerleaders if you let them.”

WHIZ had the privilege of watching the graduation of one of its participants, Toby Harper, as he had the chance to prove his sobriety and improvement in front of the Family Court and his peers. This is Harper’s second time in the program – the first time in which he “didn’t take it seriously” he stated. Harper was originally admitted in the program in July of 2017, and was first released in June of 2019. However after relapsing and being involved in a serious car accident, Harper was found with a half-gram of methamphetamine and was placed in a detention facility. In May of 2020 he re-joined the program, this time with a new sense of purpose, and an objective to be “a better role model for his son”, who had begun to struggle with addiction as well.

Toby began his struggles with addiction when he was just 11 years old – and as he passed his 64th birthday this past Sunday, he can proudly state he has been 928 days sober and clean. Today, both Toby and his son are now “partner’s in sobriety” and claim their willingness to change and the support from the Family Dependency Court as the Fuel to get them on the right track.

Toby Harper, emotional after receiving his certificate of completion of the program

Harper was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the program and repeatedly thanked the program leader Peggi Cater for her continued hope and support for the participants.

“It’s just like a different family. You know, you can go out and have fun without having drugs and alcohol in your life – and it took me 45 years to learn that.”

Those above the age of 18 and currently struggling with a pending children’s services case can reach out to the Family Dependency Court to request admittance into the program. More information can be found on the Muskingum County Children’s Services website.