The Family Drug and Alcohol Court ( FDAC) is to expand in London after a partnership of nine boroughs, led by Merton Council, commissioned the service from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.
Families in the nine boroughs will now have the option of ordinary care proceedings, or being referred to Central London Family Court, Croydon Family Court, and West London Family Court so their case can proceed through FDAC.
The FDAC service, delivered by the Tavistock and Portman Trust, gives parents more intensive support than they normally get when they are involved in care proceedings, with hearings (without lawyers) led by dedicated, specially-trained judges who provide frequent encouragement and challenge as parents work on their recovery.
Under FDAC, the judge works closely with a specialist, multi-disciplinary team attached to the court, who collaborate with local services to offer parents a personalised package of support and treatment that gives them the chance to overcome their problems and show that they are capable of caring for their children.
Research published in 2016 suggested that families receiving FDAC were significantly more likely than families in standard care proceedings to be reunited with their children and for the parents to have ceased misusing substances.
FDAC families are also three to four times more likely than families receiving standard care proceedings to be doing well three years after the proceedings came to an end.
The nine London boroughs join 15 other local authorities around the country in operating a FDAC, with further expansion planned across the UK later in 2018. The expanded service was launched today (28 February) at an event hosted by Croydon Family Court.
Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our problem-solving Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) model is tried and tested. We know it works better than standard family proceedings in addressing the complex problems of trauma, substance misuse, mental ill health and domestic violence that families involved in care proceedings often face, and I’m delighted that families across London will now have the option of accessing a FDAC service.”
Steve Bambrough, director of the FDAC National Unit, said: “FDAC achieves better outcomes for parents, better outcomes for children, and better value for money and we applaud these local authorities, the courts, and the judges for taking an innovative, compassionate and evidence-based approach to family justice in the capital.”