The UK’s 12th Family, Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) was launched this week in the Midlands.
The Birmingham and Solihull FDAC, which covers the Birmingham and Solihull areas, was officially opened on Thursday 25 February and the first hearings will take place in early March.
First piloted in London in January 2008, the UK now has 13 specialist FDAC teams, working in 19 venues and serving families in 32 local authorities.
In them, a specialist multi-disciplinary team works closely with the judge and other professionals to provide intensive treatment and support for parents wishing to turn their lives around, helping them abstain from drugs and alcohol, thus enabling more children to be reunified with their parents.
At a virtual launch event, HHJ Judge Burgher and HHJ Judge Thomas welcomed Mrs Justice Knowles, Family Liaison Judge for the Midland Circuit, alongside local councillors and stakeholders.
Mrs Justice Knowles said: “FDACs are the formative problem-solving courts – intensive and time limited within family proceedings, they work with families to facilitate change and ultimately safeguard the welfare of children. FDACs require a significant commitment from both local authorities and the judiciary as families have intensive multi-disciplinary support throughout the process and they meet with Judges every fortnight to ensure that progress is monitored. During the last decade FDACs have continued to demonstrate positive outcomes for families in Family Care proceedings and are now well recognised as an important alternative for these difficult cases.”
She added: “Evaluation of FDACs is ongoing but has to date demonstrated the long-term benefits as more children stay with their parents, 35% compared with 19% in non FDAC proceedings. Families also return to court less often with research finding that a year after care proceedings concluded 25% of FDAC families were reporting further neglect or abuse compared to 56% of comparison families. FDAC outcomes will be evaluated independently as part of the Department for Education’s programme Supporting Families: Investing in Practice.”
By April 2021, there are expected to be 14 FDAC teams across 35 Local Authorities and 20 Family Courts.