Here are several things to get you started:

  1. 1. Let the Tennessee Drug Court Administrator know you are interested in starting a juvenile recovery drug court. Her name is Liz Ledbetter and you can reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 615-532-3411

  2. Make sure you have everyone at the table. Have a meeting that includes your local stakeholders and ensure everyone is on board. This includes at least your local elected officials (law enforcement, district attorney, mayor, members of your local commission, the judge who would preside over the court), but also the public defender, local department of children’s services, schools, area treatment providers, mental health providers, the prevention coalition (if you have one), the faith community, vocational organizations, etc. This list could get pretty big, but you want to know up front where support lies and where barriers may exist. You won’t get a recovery court off the ground without support from the district attorney.

  3. Visit one or two juvenile recovery drug courts in Tennessee. Call TADCP or Liz Ledbetter to find out which courts would be good for you to visit. We usually make suggestions based on where you are located, what court level you are, and other factors so that you can visit a program that could mentor yours.

  4. Research, research, research! There’s less information and training available for juvenile recovery drug courts, but the best place to start is at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (www.ncjfcj.org). They provide limited training and technical assistance. Visit www.nadcp.org, and check out the National Drug Court Institute, an NADCP arm and accessible on the main website. In addition, check out some of the online resources noted at our Online Resource Center. Make friends with a juvenile drug court in Tennessee and have them on speed dial!

  5. Determine funding resources. The 2003 Drug Court Act provided a small funding stream for adult recovery courts at the county level, but that is not accessible by juvenile courts.

    In addition, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs (www.ojjdp.gov) conducts a grant solicitation each year, and funding for implementation is usually a priority. They are also scheduled to release new evidence-based guidelines for juvenile recovery drug courts in the fall of 2016.

    The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (DMHSAS) receives an appropriation every year to fund many adult recovery courts and a handful of juvenile recovery drug courts in the state. While funding from that appropriation is not guaranteed, you can inquire about it by contacting the State Drug Court Administrator Liz Ledbetter at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 615-532-3411.

  6. Whether you are able to access national implementation training or not, you will need to go through some training and strategic planning to put your new program together. There are a variety of resources available to help you. Please contact TADCP at 615-939-2872 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can be a resource to support your efforts. Liz Ledbetter with DMHSAS is also able to help.

Additional Resources:

A national resource center providing information, expert consultation, training and technical assistance to child welfare, dependency court and substance abuse treatment professionals to improve the safety, permanency, well-being and recovery outcomes for children, parents and families.

The Children and Family Futures website has information about providing services to kids and families, and can be useful for adult recovery courts as well as juvenile and family. They provide technical assistance and have free archived webinars on their website.