Courts which help parents recover from alcohol and drug addiction in order for them to keep their children are expanding into more areas of England
With the success of London’s seven-year-old Family Drug and Alcohol Court, and the more recently opened courts in Gloucestershire and Milton Keynes, plans to expand into more areas of England has received funding.
Department for Education backing expansion
The Department for Education is backing FDACs with £2.5m to help fund the expansion into more areas including East Sussex, Kent and Medway, Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter, and West Yorkshire.
A majority of families that enter into care proceeding have at least one parent with a drink or drug problem. FDACs are dissimilar to traditional family courts, they have their own team of experts and medical professionals helping families via what is often described as a “therapeutic” process. Parents attend the court every two weeks, seeing the same Judge each time.
Usually, the children are temporarily placed with other family members or with a foster family, allowing the focus of the parents to be on their detox and rehabilitation. This is an intensive 26-week program that includes therapy, treatment and regular tests to ensure patients are not secretly drinking or drug using.
Brunel University evaluated the London FDAC last year and found that 35% of mothers were able to beat their addictions, allowing their children to be returned home, compared to the 19% success rate of families that go through the standard family courts. Though this was only the same sample of 200 families.
The president of the Family Division of the High Court, Sir James Munby, supports the expansion: “I consider FDAC as one of the most important and innovative developments in family law in decades.
“I am a strong supporter and believe that its combination therapy, offered by the multi-disciplinary team, and adjudication and direction using the authority of the court is the right approach for parents suffering from addiction.”
He added: “The process delivers better outcomes for the children and the parents subject to it and achieves this in a manner which respects the humanity of the parents.”
This support is echoed by Children and Family Minister Edward Timpson MP, stating: “Since 2008, the FDAC has thrown an invaluable lifeline to hundreds upon hundreds of families.” He said extending its work would deliver “life-changing results for families across the country”.
The planned expansion should see FDACs in a quarter of all English family courts, however, they will only sit once a week and hear a relatively small number of cases. The FDAC may now deal with hundreds of cases a year, though according to the court service Cafcass, over 18,000 children were involved in care proceedings in England 2013-14.
All information for this article was gained from BBC News, click here to read the original story.