The Family Drug and Alcohol Court [FDAC] is an alternative family court for care proceedings. It is specially designed to work with parents who struggle with drug and alcohol misuse. However, parents coming into FDAC will often have other difficulties as well, including mental health problems and experiences of domestic abuse.
FDAC is different from other family courts. It is all about trying to solve the problems that have led the local authority to bring the parent to court. To do this, the same judge reviews the case every fortnight in an informal hearing with each parent. In these meetings, known as Non-Lawyer Reviews, parents get to speak directly to the judge.
Alongside the court, a team of professionals with different specialisms – in areas like substance misuse, domestic violence & abuse and mental health — work closely with the family during the court process.
Parents who join FDAC are given what is called ‘a trial for change’. This is a period in which they work on interventions agreed in a personalised plan which the team, family and other professionals come up with together. Parents are asked to work closely with the FDAC team and with other services that gives parents the best possible chance to overcome their problems. At the same time FDAC tests whether parents can make enough change quickly enough for what their child or children need.
The Trial for Change also gets parents and professionals working together in a way that means everyone is clear about what has to be done, and when and why. Towards the end of proceedings, the FDAC team give a recommendation to the Local Authority and court on whether the parent(s) can safely care for their child.