FDAC: the problem-solving court

FDAC is a problem-solving court approach to improving outcomes for children involved in care proceedings. It offers an alternative – and more successful – way of supporting parents to overcome the substance misuse, mental health and domestic abuse problems that have put their children at risk of serious harm. It offers parents optimism about recovery and change, combined with a realistic understanding of the immense challenge they face.

The FDAC National Unit

The National Unit is a partnership of five organisations working to extend the FDAC service across England and Wales and to change the way children and families experience care proceedings. This website explains the FDAC model and the work of the National Unit. It will keep you up to date with news from existing and new FDAC sites, the emerging lessons from practice and research, and answers to the common questions people ask us.  



Radio 4 Last Words remembered FDAC founder Judge Nicholas Crichton with a tribute from Sophie Kershaw.

Listen now [From 7 minutes 30 seconds]

Sophie has also gathered a collection of tributes from FDAC teams across the country. Read them now.



Congratulations to Coventry FDAC who won the Public Sector Team of the Year Award at the National Children & Young People Now Awards 2018.

The award is for the public sector team that made the biggest difference to the life chances of children, young people and families. There were five other finalists in this category and Coventry FDAC were chosen by a panel that included young people.


The FDAC National Network Day brings together practitioners and judges from all the FDAC sites. This year we were fortunate to be addressed by Sir Andrew McFarlane, the incoming President of the Family Division of the High Court. He spoke with warmth and admiration for the contribution of District Judge Nicholas Crichton CBE, who has sadly since passed away.

He also talked about his appreciation of the FDAC model that Nick did so much to establish.

FDAC is certainly the most assessed and researched bit of the Family Court, with government and social scientists and others interested in the model. I’ve been re-reading the research documents and the figures speak for themselves. I echo the view that FDAC is “arguably the most radical development in family justice since the Children Act 1989”.

The striking thing from the research is what it shows about the ‘stickabilty’ of the outcomes, the ‘durability’ of the arrangements made, and the changed lifestyle of parents coming out of FDAC. These are far more successful than the arrangements made at the end of care proceedings where children go home to their parents without this key intervention.

I’m an FDAC fan, as I said, and I think it’s important as the new President to say that I take exactly the same view of the importance of FDAC as did Sir James Munby, my predecessor: it empowers the parents who engage in the process.

Read a fuller account of Sir Andrew’s speech.


The whole FDAC family, including all of the FDAC staff around the country, FDAC Judges, supporters and graduates of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) programme are saddened to hear of the passing of our founder, Judge Nick Crichton over the weekend.

We offer our condolences to his family, and our heartfelt thanks for a life dedicated to helping some of the most vulnerable children, parents and families not only in this country but around the world.

The FDAC National Unit will in time give a fuller account of his work, in honour of his life spent working for the most marginalised and vulnerable children but at this moment when the grief we feel about his passing is very raw, we would just like to say how much we respected Nick’s work and his dedication to helping provide a better life for people who are most often forgotten about and neglected.

In Nick’s own words, FDAC was “better for parents, better for children, better for families and ultimately better for our society.” Beginning with a single court in London, FDAC expanded to nine other specialist teams across UK. Even in retirement Nick remained a powerful advocate for FDAC, staying in touch with parents who had been through the FDAC system, celebrating the successes, and supporting those who still had more to do.

Steve Bambrough of the FDAC National Unit remembers the indelible contribution of  Judge Crichton: “When I first met Judge Crichton is 2003, I remember how strikingly and passionately committed he was to a justice system that gave families the best chance of overcoming their difficulties. He believed in people’s capacity to change. He was horrified at the suffering he saw in other countries where children were left forgotten in institutions, without the care they needed and deserved. We in the FDAC family will greatly miss him and we will continue to work to see that the FDAC programme continues to grow as he would have wanted it to and which is a remarkable legacy to his life”.


In September 2018 funding for the FDAC National Unit ceased, but the materials developed by the NU remain on the FDAC website and advice and information is also available. For an interim period between September 2018 – April 2019, the NU will be running at a minimum operational level while discussions continue about the NU in the longer term. It is hoped that from April 2019 the FDAC National Unit will be re-established and will be able to support new sites setting up an FDAC.

The core team is no longer in post. The FDAC National Unit therefore will not be as responsive as it has been in the past but hopes to be able to respond to any queries about starting an FDAC from interested areas and to respond to existing FDAC sites’ requests for support and any specific operational questions.


You can find lots of information about FDAC on our website. For any further information or to request support from the interim FDAC National Unit please email: info.FdacNu@tavi-port.nhs.uk 

There are also many FDAC Advocates around the country with expertise of starting an FDAC and the National Unit can put you in touch with them.


Please contact the FDAC National Unit direct if you have any enquiries about FDAC training. Please email: info.FdacNu@tavi-port.nhs.uk

Join us on Wed 27 Feb for the launch of Justice for Children and Families: A Developmental Perspective, by Dr Mike Shaw & Professor Sue Bailey.The book is comprised of short, highly readable chapters with an interdisciplinary appeal. Book your free ticket https://t.co/C8xSvnwm0u

It's #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek. @researchIP we have a number of resources to support professionals working with children, young people and parental mental health https://t.co/cq0ITOpyxk

See our website for an interview with Sophie Kershaw on Radio 4 about Nicholas Crichton, and also a page of tributes to him and his work from FDAC staff and Judges and friends round the country. He is greatly missed.

Take a 👀....Interesting, well presented, easy access. Always more questions!! https://t.co/Z7eIq0LuMz

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