Press release

Family Drug and Alcohol Court to extend nationwide

Courts that help families affected by drug and alcohol misuse to open in new areas, thanks to government backing worth £2.5 million.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Family holding hands

The Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) works with parents, social workers and substance misuse professionals to combat addictions in families and, where possible, keep them together. Where this isn’t possible, the court aims to make swift decisions in order to find children a permanent, loving, stable home with minimal disruption.

The court also ensures parents see the same judge throughout the course of the proceedings, establishing a relationship built on trust, and offers fast-access substance misuse services as well as help with housing issues, domestic violence and financial hardship.

With courts currently operating across London, as well as Gloucestershire, Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire, the money will be used to launch family drug and alcohol courts in new areas of the country, including Coventry, Kent and Medway, Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter, and West Yorkshire - extending this vital service to vulnerable families across the country.

Children and Family Minister, Edward Timpson, who spent 10 years as a family barrister, said:

I know from my years at the bar that when it comes to supporting our most vulnerable and troubled families, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Families need tailored and personalised support to help them stay together and thrive.

Since 2008, the Family Drug and Alcohol Court has thrown an invaluable lifeline to hundreds upon hundreds of families, helping parents shut the door on destructive behaviour and making sure everyone is working towards the best possible outcome for the child - a safe and stable family.

Extending the court’s work further will deliver real, life-changing results for families across the country and I look forward to seeing how the scheme develops over the coming months.

District Judge Nick Crichton said

FDAC is a problem-solving court. In the FDAC, we have seen some parents demonstrate a remarkable capacity to change in response to our more constructive, empathetic approach. Harnessing the fairness and authority of the court has shown that it is possible to break the cycle of drug and alcohol misuse. Importantly, FDAC has the support of parents themselves, which is crucial to its success. Thanks to the DfE and government’s investment, more parents and their children will be able to access FDAC across the country.

The scheme is one of the latest projects that have successfully bid for money through the government’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.

The innovation programme - backed by funding worth £100 million - aims to kickstart the most promising proposals for new ways of providing children’s social care, such as supporting young people leaving care and taking their first steps into adulthood or looking at new bespoke services such as FGM prevention.

The government’s innovation programme focuses on 2 key target areas - fresh ways of working in children’s social work and better support for young people in or on the edge of care. Exciting proposals that have successfully secured funding to date include:

  • the roll-out of a new project aimed at creating homes-from-homes for families teetering on the edge of crisis - from befriending and providing much-needed help for struggling or isolated parents, to offering a safe space for the night to children and young people when there’s a family crisis or their home life is proving too much to bear
  • the expansion of a project that helps women who have had successive children taken into care, by interrupting repeat pregnancies and giving them a chance to turn their lives around
  • a new programme to overhaul the entire child protection systems of 5 councils across the country, which will prioritise frontline work with vulnerable families over form-filling and needless bureaucracy

Notes to editor

  1. Read more about the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.

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Published 19 February 2015