A new approach to care proceedings that tackles the substance misuse of parents has been successful in reducing the number of children taken into care and enabling more families to remain together safely, reports the Nuffield Foundation.
An independent evaluation of the pilot Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) found that parents who had been through the FDAC process as opposed to ordinary care proceedings were more likely to stop misusing substances and, if they did so, more likely to be reunited with their children.
FDAC families who were reunited at the end of proceedings had lower rates of neglect or abuse in the first year following reunification than reunited families who had been through ordinary care proceedings.
The evaluation recommends that FDAC should be rolled out more widely. It also highlights the need for greater support for reunited families when care proceedings finish, and for cases to finish more quickly when parents do not engage with the process.
District Judge Nick Crichton said:
“This evaluation shows that swift access to integrated support services helps parents control their substance misuse and be reunited with their children. FDAC also has the support of parents themselves, which is crucial to its success. We now need to see a better system for tracking outcomes of these cases, which will give the court clearer information and improve feedback to local authorities.”
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