Surprising Success of the FDAC in Keeping Families Together

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When it comes to the care of children, it is clear that the suitability of the carers is an absolute priority. Fortunately, in the instance of parental substance misuse, things are looking up for children and families. It has been shown through recent research that mothers who have gone through care proceedings with the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) are more likely to have prolonged success in stopping use of alcohol or drugs compared to going through traditional court proceedings, resulting in less children ending up in care and a consequentially less disrupted family life.

Now, after five years following the success of the FDAC’s methods in London, this model is being used in an increasing number of courts across the country.

Some new statistics published by researchers show that 37% of mothers were reunited with their children after FDAC proceedings compared to only 25% in normal care proceedings. Furthermore, in the three years following the court proceedings, 51% experienced much less familial disruption, such as a relapse or a return to court, whereas only 22% of cases experienced this stability after normal court proceedings.

Judges describe the proceedings held at the FDAC as a ‘more humane experience’ which offers potential for the parent to take responsibility to make positive changes for their own future and the future of their family.

With the success of this initiative, there is hope for problem-solving court proceedings to extend beyond purely substance misuse.

Justice Minister Philip Lee MP says ‘this government is committed to creating a justice system that works for everyone,’ and he believes that the FDAC is contributing to this greatly. Similarly, Edward Timpson, Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families says ‘everyone involved in the programme should be thanked for the inspiring work they’ve done and continue to do.’

So it seems that there is hope for the future of families involved with substance misuse, and potentially other areas of family law too if this successful idea is extended further afield. In the words of the co-director of the FDAC National Unit, Sophie Kershaw, ‘FDAC really works, more families stay clean and more families stay together – we’re talking about real, lasting change.’

Source: ‘Family Drug and Alcohol Court’s ‘humane’ approach keeps more families together’ FDAC National Unit, 22 SEP 2016

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