The Department of
Education (DfE) has announced that an estimated £2.5 million of funding is
available to develop a National Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) Development Unit and to nurture new courts
across the country.
The national FDAC unit will be based at Coram Campus, where FDAC London is currently located, and will be led by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
, supported by partner organisations, Brunel University London
, Centre for Justice Innovation
, Manchester University
. Comprised of practitioners, policy makers and researchers, the national unit will be dedicated to nurturing new specialist drug and alcohol courts across the country.
It is expected to support a potential eight new sites in the first year that tackle the widespread problem of parental substance misuse in care proceedings, with Kent and Medway; Coventry; Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter, Leeds and West Yorkshire all committed to opening FDACs in the financial year 2015/16. The learning and implementation of FDAC will continue nationally and the model will be tested and evaluated at every FDAC site across the country.
The national roll out of the pioneering court responds to President Munby’s call
increased provision of this 'vital' service across England and paves a way to respond to an increasing demand from local authorities and the judiciary across the country.
This interest will take the learning around FDAC further: to test and evaluate the FDAC
model in new regions, with new populations, and as a possible solution to new problems. This rollout will enable FDAC to extend knowledge about how to avoid and reverse the negative impact on children of a parent’s alcohol, drug and related problems.Judith Harwin
, Professor of Social Work and Director of the Centre for Child and Youth Research at Brunel University London, led the five-year evaluation
of the first Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) in England.
Funded by the Nuffield Foundation
and the Home Office, the evaluation found that the new approach to care proceedings was more likely than ordinary proceedings to help parents stop misusing and be reunited with their children.
The research found that in 35% of cases, FDAC mothers stopped misusing and were reunited with their mothers, compared to 19% who had been through ordinary care proceedings.
Rates of fresh neglect or abuse in the first year following reunification were also lower among FDAC families than those who had gone through ordinary care proceedings.
Profesor Harwin, who will be carrying out research within
the National FDAC Development Unit, said:
'Our independent evaluation found that FDAC is
effective in helping to break the cycle of harm caused by parental substance
abuse. This approach helps reduce the number of children taken into care and
enables more families to stay together.
The evidence provides
compelling support for rolling out FDAC more widely. Thanks to the DfE, there is
now a significant opportunity to research the sustainability of FDAC over the
longer term. This is a brilliant example of how research, policy and service
development are working together to intercept the corrosive cycle of parental