Family Justice Review recommends FDAC

03 November 2011

The final report of the Family Justice Review (FJR) has recommended the limited roll out of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC). In the section on "Alternatives to court proceedings", the report states:

"The Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) in Inner London Family Proceedings Court shows considerable promise. There should be further limited roll out to continue to develop the evidence base. This should be supported by research on the overall costs to users and long term outcomes for children and families." (FJR Final Report page 19)

Young child on bench with a bottle

This is a stronger recommendation than that made in the Interim Family Justice Review Report published earlier this year, largely because the FJR has had the opportunity to consider the full FDAC evaluation, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and led by Professor Judith Harwin at Brunel University:

"In the interim report we considered that there was scope for further limited roll out depending on an evaluation of costs and the longer-term outcomes for children. Since then, the final report of the first stage of the FDAC evaluation has been published.98 This shows that FDAC is dealing quickly and constructively with difficult substance-abuse cases, engaging parents and producing positive outcomes." (FJR Final Report page 131)

The FJR also "welcomes interest" in the FDAC model from local authorities outside London and recommends other uses be fully evaluated (page 131). 

The report goes on to say that local authorities and courts more generally could learn from "FDAC’s focused approach to proceedings, including its engagement with all the parties and its use of an integrated team to provide high quality assessments to court and therapeutic support for parents." (FJR Final Report page 131)

The Foundation continues to support the independent FDAC evaluation through a grant to fund a 24-month follow up of the cases that entered FDAC between 2008 and 2010 and comparing them with non-FDAC cases. This work is also being done by the evaluation team at Brunel University.  

Key findings from the independent evaluation of FDAC funded by the Foundation

  • Substance misuse: more FDAC parents controlled their misuse.
  • Reunited families: higher rate of FDAC family reunification.
  • Services: more FDAC parents engaged in treatment and other services.
  • Length of proceedings:  a more constructive use of court time.
  • Costs: savings for local authorities and potential savings for courts and the Legal Services Commission.
  • Parents and professionals want FDAC to expand