Professor Judith Harwin of Brunel University led an independent evaluation of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) pilot project.
Her research was funded by the Nuffield Foundation and the Home Office.
It assessed whether parents on the programme are more successful in tackling their substance misuse and, if so, whether their children can remain at home safely or, if already in care, can return to live with their parents.
The study looked at 55 families which had been through FDAC and another 31 families who had been through ordinary care proceedings following parental substance abuse. Published in May 2011, the evaluation showed that the FDAC pilot had been more successful at controlling substance misuse and reuniting families than ordinary care proceedings. Key findings include:
- At the time of the final court order, 39% of FDAC mothers were reunited with their children compared to 21% of mothers from a comparison group in ordinary proceedings,
- All but two parents said they were in favour of the FDAC approach,
- FDAC reduced costs for local authorities since more children stayed with their parents and because there were shorter care placements, shorter court hearings and fewer contested cases.
For the full evaluation, please visit Brunel University's website.
Government reviews of FDAC
FDAC’s success has also been recognised by two major government reviews of family justice and child protection:
- The Munro Review of Child Protection (May 2011) was 'impressed' by the pilot and used it as an example of how multi-disciplinary teams can provide effective interventions for vulnerable children.
- The Family Justice Review interim report (March 2011) stated FDAC showed ‘considerable promise’ and ‘potentially justifies a further limited roll out’. It also emphasised the importance of judicial continuity by having the same judge follow a family through all stages of proceedings.
To find out more about this service, please contact our Family Drug and Alcohol court on 020 7278 5708 or at [email protected]