Ed Dyer, Team Manager, and Dr Anna Gough, Clinical Lead, the South West Peninsula Family Drug and Alcohol Court
This sixth blog from the Family Drug and Alcohol Court National Unit is from one of the newer FDAC sites. It describes the work of the team and some of the ways in which they measure their success in meeting the needs of children and families.
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The South West Peninsula Family Drug and Alcohol Court was established in November 2015 covering the local authority areas of Plymouth, Torbay and Devon (excluding North Devon). We are a small team comprising a part-time clinical lead (a clinical psychologist), team manager, social worker, substance misuse specialist and administrator. The team can also draw on the expertise of an experienced adult psychiatrist.
The geography of the area covered means that all the work with parents is carried out on an individual basis, usually in parents’ homes or other community venues.
Over the first 18 months, the team have received a total of 30 referrals from the three local authorities. Twenty-one cases have been concluded, including nine cases where children have either remained in or were returned to the care of their parents by the end of proceedings.
One of the issues throughout has been how to define success for the children and parents who have been supported by FDAC. Through careful review of our cases we have learnt about different ways of measuring success.
In an earlier blog
, Mary Ryan outlined a range of features that could constitute success for families, including:
- children returning home safely,
- the early completion of cases, and
- a reduction in the number of contested final hearings.
These features can be evidenced at the conclusion of proceedings and so can be compared with what happens for families not referred to FDAC.
Children returning home safely
Our main goal is to support parents to make sufficient changes to their substance misuse/lifestyle to enable their children to remain in their care at the end of proceedings or be returned to their care during proceedings.
The team was buoyed up by one family where the parents were able to evidence sufficient progress in their drug use and other areas of their lives to warrant their young children returning to their care at around week 18. In particular, the team noted that the father became more involved through the proceedings. He became more confident and open in his dealings with all the professionals and both parents actively repaired their relationship with the children’s social worker. The team also watched the parents seek support from the local children’s centres and other community-based services that previously they would have shied away from for fear of losing their children.