New combined service will help parents fight addiction and keep families together

Published Tuesday, 19 October 2021

The Coventry Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) is launching a partnership with Warwickshire County Council (WCC) to give families an even better service.

The FDAC court is an alternative to usual care proceedings offered to parents where their children are subject to care proceedings due to substance misuse.  

It is a problem-solving court that aims to help parents overcome their difficulties with the hope that they can be reunited with their children. The research suggests that 48% of FDAC cases, compared to 18% through ordinary care proceedings, are reunited.

The Coventry FDAC court was launched six years ago and is core funded by Coventry City Council. Its work has seen it awarded the Public Sector Children’s Team Award at the 2018 Children & Young People Now Awards.

Now, a new combined service with WCC is being launched, supported by a grant from the Department for Education, to ensure all parents across the region are offered the same level of service.

It will enable them access to the specialist team that includes social workers, substance misuse specialists, a parenting officer, children and family worker and clinical lead.

The multi-disciplinary team works with parents to support them to achieve their goal to have their children reunified to them and to achieve abstinence. It helps them to solve problems and address lifestyle, relationship difficulties and any unresolved Trauma.

Councillor Pat Seaman, Coventry City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “The Coventry family Drug and Alcohol Court has made a real difference to many lives over the past six years. It has brought children and parents back together and rebuilt families.

“With Coventry and Warwickshire being such close neighbours, we wanted to ensure that this award-winning approach was available to as many people as possible and we are delighted to be able to launch the new partnership.

“We know that alcohol and substance abuse can have a devastating effect on families, and especially the children involved who have to live through the problems in the family and can then often find themselves taken into care away from their parents.

“The Family Drug and Alcohol Courts have shown how effective they are, and I look forward to the partnership helping even more people in the years ahead.”

Councillor Jeff Morgan, Portfolio Holder for Children and Families at Warwickshire County Council, added: “We are delighted to partner with Coventry City Council on the Family Drug and Alcohol Court, which we hope will help families identify and build on their strengths so they can stay together. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing the positive impacts that the FDAC’s approach will have on Warwickshire children and young people and their families.”

The new partnership is due to be officially launched on 15 October as Coventry and Warwickshire FDAC

Mrs Justice Knowles, FDAC lead Judge, said: ‘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.”

The courts have been praised by families and professionals who have spoken of the skills of the team in motivating and engaging parents and described proceedings as ‘much more collaborative and less adversarial than ordinary care proceedings’.

Comments praising the Coventry court have included:

  • I have never heard parents speak so openly in court as they do in FDAC. Confidence develops. You see them build a relationship with the judge
  • This court is different. We don't do conflict. We minimise hostility. This is about solving problems
  • Outcomes are better in lots of ways whether or not the children go home
  • All the professional involved - including lawyers - build better relationships with the parents
  • To go into court as an addict but to be seen as a human being was the start of my journey to treatment.

The courts have also been shown to save money for taxpayers, with £2.30 saved for every £1 spent.

The Centre for Justice Innovation (a non-profit dedicated to creating a fairer and more effective justice system) provides national leadership for Family Drug and Alcohol Courts. 

Phil Bowen, Director of the Centre for Justice Innovation, commented: “We believe that every family that could benefit from a Family Drug and Alcohol Court should be able to access one, so the launch of the Coventry and Warwickshire FDAC is extremely welcome. 

“This will mean that more parents get this crucial chance to overcome their addiction, and more families will be supported to stay together safely.”

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