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Evaluation of pilot Family Drug and Alcohol Court

Researchers: Professor Judith Harwin

Project overview


The Nuffield Foundation funded Brunel University to carry out an independent evaluation of the first Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) in care proceedings.

FDAC is a new way of dealing with care proceedings when parental substance misuse is causing harm to children. This is an issue in up to two thirds of all care proceedings. Unlike conventional care proceedings, parents in FDAC see the same judge throughout and meet with them every fortnight. They also receive support from a multi-disciplinary team, which helps them access substance misuse services and provides assistance in tackling other problems such as housing, domestic violence and financial hardship.

The FDAC pilot ran from January 2008 to March 2012 at the Inner London Family Proceedings Court. The multi-disciplinary team is provided by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with children’s charity, Coram. The pilot is based on a successful US model and began with three participating London Boroughs – Camden, Islington and Westminster. Hammersmith and Fulham and Southwark joined the pilot in 2012.

Main findings
  • FDAC families had higher rates of substance misuse cessation than those who had been through ordinary care proceedings: 40% of FDAC mothers compared to 25% of comparison mothers, and 25% of FDAC fathers compared to 5% of comparison fathers, although the data on fathers was less complete than for mothers.
  • FDAC families had higher rates of family reunification: 35% of FDAC mothers stopped misusing and were reunited with their children, compared to 19% of mothers who had been through ordinary care proceedings.
  • The rate of neglect or abuse one year after children returned home was lower for FDAC parents than parents who had been through ordinary care proceedings: 25% compared to 56%.
  • In cases where reunification was not possible, FDAC was no quicker in achieving alternative permanent placement than ordinary proceedings (62 weeks).
  • In addition to receiving the intensive service from the FDAC team, a higher proportion of FDAC mothers (95% v 55%) and fathers (58% v 27%) were offered help from other agencies for their substance misuse.

Latest on this project


Team


  • Professor Judith Harwin
    Brunel University

  • Director, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation

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