FDAC: The Problem Solving Court That Makes Real Change
The Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDAC) are alternative family courts for care proceedings. They are specially designed to work with parents who struggle with drug and alcohol misuse. Foundations, the national What Works Centre for Children & Families, has recently carried out a detailed evaluation of the FDAC system as an alternative to standard care proceedings. The aim of the evaluation was to understand the effect of FDAC proceedings on reunification for children and families at the end of care proceedings in comparison to standard care proceedings. The evaluation also examined whether parents who went through FDACs were more likely to stop misusing substances.
Whilst there were limitations with the methodology and data collection in the evaluation which means the effects cannot be attributed to the impact of FDACs alone, the findings were in summary:
- 52% of children with a primary carer in FDAC care proceedings were more likely to be reunified with their primary carer at the end of proceedings compared to 12.5% in standard care proceedings.
- 33.6% of parents had ceased drug/alcohol misuse at the end of FDAC care proceedings compared to 8.1% in standard care proceedings.
- Only 4.2% of FDAC cases were contested compared to standard care proceedings which saw 23.8% being contested.
- 7.7% of FDAC cases used external expert witness assessments compared with 96.1% of non-FDAC care proceedings.
- Children in FDAC cases had a lower probability of being placed in Local Authority care compared with non-FDAC care proceedings, 28.6% versus 54.7%.
The report concluded that local commissioners should actively consider how FDACs can form part of their services for families.
FLiP Director Helen Greenfield comments on the report saying:
“This report underlines the unrivalled and amazing work FDAC continues to do, providing solutions for families and children where previously none, or certainly only sub-standard ones, existed. It must be right that these therapeutic and solution focused courts are able and encouraged to continue to better the life chances of hundreds of parents and children across the country.”
A full copy of the report, along with the policy and practice implications paper can be found here.
Here at Family Law in Partnership we recognise the importance of supporting separating families and we remain proud to support FDAC through our financial contribution.
If you would like to learn more about the work of the Family Drug and Alcohol Courts, visit their website here.