Improving outcomes for vulnerable families
Drawing on work from the US, the FDAC provides support to families trying to break the cycle of substance addiction. The court uses specialist judges who encourage and motivate parents as they progress through the programme, and a specialist team to work intensively with the families.
The Family Drug and Alcohol Court team has expertise across a wide range of disciplines. There are drug and alcohol treatment specialists, nurses and social workers. The team can do an assessment in two weeks that could take social services four months. The team provide a holistic approach, addressing the full range of parents' problems - addiction, debt, housing, relationships, mental health and domestic violence.
The idea for the court came after research showed that two-thirds of all care proceedings initiated by Camden, Islington and Westminster are because of parental substance misuse.
In addition to this, parent mentors are recruited and used where suitable. These mentors have been through drug and/or substance misuse themselves and have had their children taken into care.
A judge also works closely on the case. The judge plays an important role in encouraging and motivating parents to engage with services through regular court hearing reviews. This means parents can be quickly put on a rigorous programme to help them overcome their destructive habit.
Is it successful?
Outcomes so far have shown a number of positive results, including:
- parents graduating from the programme have successfully engaged with treatment, stayed clean and have remained with their children
- children of parents unable to consistently stay out off substance misuse because of complex problems have been removed from dangerous and damaging environments quickly and moved to stable placements
- parents who have had their children removed have remained engaged with the service
- parent mentors involved in the project have built up valuable skills and some have made the transition to employment.
The court covers the London Boroughs of Camden, Islington and Westminster.
The project is being evaluated by Brunel University, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and the Home Office. The research aims to assess the success of the project. The final report is due on December 31st 2010: however, some emerging findings were released in October 2010 (see attachments).