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Tagged In:  Alcohol, Drugs, FDAC, Government News
After 7 years of success in London, Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDACs) are going to open in Coventry, Kent and Medway, Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter as well as West Yorkshire. This will bring the total number of FDACs to 9, including those already established in Gloucestershire, Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire. 

It’s not surprising that the £2.5 million being invested in helping to address the underlying issues involved in substance misuse is going ahead. 

If we take a look at some of the facts from the ‘All Party Group on Alcohol Misuse Manifesto 2015’, some of the statistics show exactly why such courts are required:

  • 1/5 of all young callers to ChildLine are worried about the drinking of a parent or other significant person. Many express concerns of violence, neglect, fear and isolation. 
  • 93,500 babies under the age of one live with a parent that has a drink problem
  • 74% of child mistreatment cases in the UK are alcohol related

Furthermore, domestic violence in the home is frequently linked to substance misuse. 

Although going back a couple of years now, in 2009/10 Home Office statistics showed over 1/3 of all domestic violence victims in England and Wales believed their attacker to have been under the influence of alcohol. Sadly, many of these families had children living with them.

The FDAC, however, is a fresh approach to helping these vulnerable children who are identified as being at risk by those parents or carers that abuse alcohol or other substances. 

So what makes the FDAC approach different? Yes, it’s a collaborative approach between local authorities, the government, the Courts, the NHS and the voluntary sector, but that doesn’t make it particularly unique. 

What does, however, is that it provides the legal framework to make dealing with individual cases much swifter with a higher degree of consistent contact and support. For example, parents see the same judge throughout and are offered fast-access to substance misuse services, as well as additional support in other areas of their lives. 

The FDAC includes the use of pre-birth assessments and parent mentors, and there’s a strong emphasis on individually tailored therapeutic support for both the parent and child. 

We must say, last year’s evaluation of the London FDAC by researchers at Brunel University are encouraging. 35% of mothers managed to get their addiction under control to allow the safe return of their children. This is compared to a significantly lower figure of 19% of mothers going through the usual family court procedure. 

Essentially, these heavily focussed courts appear to be problem-solving and there’s definitely a strong emphasis on empathy with the parents. This has, according to the DfE, seen increased parental support of the concept, which makes it a success. 

The expansion of the FDACs is just one of many projects being implemented as part of the government’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, which is funded by the DfE. The £2.5 million earmarked for the FDAC expansion programme will also see the formation of the National FDAC Development Unit, which is expected to see the creation of more FDACs in time. 

Hopefully, whilst the political parties vying for government have their own agendas, whoever leads our next government will continue to support the wider adoption of the FDAC approach. 

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