Skip to content


Specialist family drug and alcohol courts more likely to reunite families than standard care proceedings

A new report says parents involved with the Family Drug and Alcohol Courts during care proceedings are more likely to beat their addiction and be reunited with their children.

Foundations, the national What Works Centre for Children & Families, conducted the evaluation of FDAC which was published this month.

It found that 52 percent of parents with an alcohol and drug addiction involved in FDAC were reunited with their children at the end of proceedings, while in standard care proceedings only 12.5 percent of parents are reunited with their children.

Factors that supported FDAC’s success include the package of high-intensity, wraparound, multidisciplinary support flexibly tailored for each individual, the role of FDAC judges in overseeing the process, and having direct contact with parents, encouraging them to make and sustain changes.

FDACs offer an alternative to standard care proceedings involving parental drug or alcohol misuse, using a “problem-solving” approach to support parents to reduce their misuse issues. Families work with a multi-disciplinary team and an assigned judge to reduce substance abuse issues.

FDAC was pioneered by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with several government departments, Camden Council and Coram, the children’s charity. There are now 15 FDACs serving 36 local authorities across the UK.

Participants in the research said FDAC was more supportive of parents, led to better outcomes and it was found to save costs for local authorities in the long term.

“I think they’re brilliant because it’s giving you your own voice and you can voice your concerns, and anything … say, ‘Look, this is going wrong’, or, ‘This isn’t working for me’, and he’d actually listen to you and he’d talk to you like a human being” said one parent, recorded in the research.

Another said: “I’ve learned that my daughter is more important to me than that drink. That’s what I’ve learned. I’ve worked so hard to get her home I’m not going to have one drink just to lose her again.”

Steve Bambrough, Associate Director of Clinical Services at the Tavistock and Portman said:

“Having been central to the establishment of the London FDAC in 2007, the first FDAC in the UK, we are very pleased to read this report and to be part of the continuing FDAC story of bringing problem solving justice to the Family Court. We hope that this new research assists the argument that FDAC should become the standard way of carrying out family proceedings for this most vulnerable population of families.”

Find out more about Family Drug and Alcohol Courts