Lincoln judge and nonprofit help reunite families broken by addiction

Published 6:18 pm Friday, June 21, 2024

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Many parents struggling with addiction avoid seeking help out of fear of losing their children. A local nonprofit is working to eliminate that fear by helping parents overcome substance use disorder and reunite families broken apart by addiction.

Since launching the program in Clay County in 2021, Volunteers of America Mid-States’ (VOA) Family Recovery Court (FRC) has worked with families who struggle with substance use disorder and are involved in the child welfare system. The immediate goal of the program is sobriety, and the long-term goal is family reunification. Participants in the program work with VOA staff, Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) and a Family Court Judge to set goals to create a hopeful life and nurturing environment for their children while maintaining their sobriety. 

After taking the bench and becoming Family Court Judge for Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle Counties, Judge Jane Adams Venters saw the need for FRC in the region she serves and worked with Chief Family Court Judge Marcus L. Vanover to bring the program to Lincoln County. 

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“We realized how important FRC would be for folks in our Dependency, Neglect and Abuse Court, so we began searching for a way to offer Recovery Court to those individuals knowing the big impact it would have on reunification with their children,” said Venters. 

VOA expanded the program to Lincoln County in September 2022. Venters works with VOA staff and a team of social workers to help participants achieve sobriety and develop a plan to set themselves up for a successful life in recovery. 

“Many times, the participants have issues with housing, transportation, employment, and VOA staff will coordinate services and help them find a path to addressing those barriers,” said Judge Venters. “The extra assistance participants receive is invaluable in addressing these issues that have enormous impact on the family, including children.”

In October of 2023, the program saw its first graduate: Stanford resident Tamara Hogue. 

After finding sobriety in Clay County at VOA’s nationally recognized recovery program for pregnant and parenting women, Freedom House, Tamara decided to join FRC in her hometown so she could strengthen her recovery and regain custody of her children.  

With support from Venters and VOA, Tamara started a job, found stable housing and was reunited with her children. In January, she graduated from FRC.  

Tamara is one of 45 graduates of the program. With support from Judge Venters and Judge Vanover, VOA recently expanded the program to Pulaski and Rockcastle Counties. 

“I have looked forward to the program being available in all three counties that I serve because I see the tremendous impact it has on the participants and their families,” said Venters. 

To learn more about FRC and how the program is reuniting families in Eastern Kentucky, visit

About Volunteers of America: 

Volunteers of America Mid-States operates nearly 30 programs across Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Clark and Floyd Counties in Indiana. VOA serves individuals and families overcoming substance use disorder and homelessness, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, veterans in need of housing and many other individuals and families in need. Learn more at and follow @voamid on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.