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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Wellness Court helps participants find stability and support

Wellness Court helps participants find stability and support

Though the seas may be choppy in their lives, Deputy Court Clerk Katie Ramirez is ready to help high risk populations find safe harbor with the city’s new Wellness Court program.

“The Westminster Wellness Court will screen for and identify defendants who need help connecting with a variety of community programs and are in need of overall assistance getting their lives in order,” said Ramirez.

When defendants arrive at the city’s Municipal Court for his or her arraignment, the public defender, prosecutor or municipal judge would recommend him or her to be a part of the program. Through the Wellness Court, individuals will be connected with a "navigator," such as Ramirez, attend peer meetings, connect with community programs and create an overall care plan coordinated with his or her probation officer.

“By using this evidence-based approach, the Wellness Court will guide the participants to achieve long term stability, self-sufficiency and become law-abiding citizens,” said Ramirez.

An individual’s care plan would consist of three phases. Phase one includes a clinical treatment plan with action items such as obtaining a driver’s license, completing forms for Medicaid, connecting with community resources like the Community Reach Center and other customizable goals. Phase two consists of demonstrated progress in the care plan and with a treatment provider. Phase three occurs when an individual has maintained recovery independent of the Wellness Court and can graduate from the program.

“In phase three, the individual creates a Wellness Recovery Action Plan that gets the participant to really focus on the tools that have been gained through the previous phases,” said Municipal Judge Tiffany Sorice. “They should then have a plan to keep himself or herself well on a daily basis as well as a support system for the participant to lean on after graduating from Wellness Court.”

The city’s Wellness Court Team would review both applications into the program and the progress of individuals’ care plan. They hope to have a case load of approximately 30 people at a time.

The Municipal Court put together a task force to research wellness-type courts in other Colorado cities and best practices to reduce recidivism. The task force included Ramirez, Sorice, Probation Supervisor Brian Poggenklass, Court Administrator Patricia Kmitta, Lead Public Defender Joe MacHatton and Lead City Prosecutor Brian Fuselier.

“We think the Wellness Court is a welcome addition to our justice system and allows for us to help people connect to resources where they live, get their lives back on track and become self-sufficient,” said Ramirez.

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