Parents given another chance with their children by the Family Drug and Alcohol Court stay sober for longer, researchers report.
As the name suggests, Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDAC) specialises in troubled families with substance abuse problems. It works to try to help them avoid having their children taken into to the care system. The families see the same judge at each court appearance and social workers with special training in addiction issues are made available to them as their case progresses, along with therapists and psychiatrists.
Following research earlier this year which suggested that FDACs save taxpayers £2 for every £1 invested, new data now reveals that those mothers they succeed in reuniting with their children stay away from drugs and alcohol for longer and maintain more stable family lives, when compared with those involved in routine family court proceedings.
The researchers analysed cases at the original FDAC in London and followed the progress of the affected families for five years, comparing them to other similar cases in ordinary family courts.
They found that a significantly higher number of mothers were reunited with their children by the FDAC than other courts (37 per cent compared to 25 per cent), and that these were also much less likely to experience relapses into substance abuse and a subsequent return to the courtroom over the three years subsequent to the case.
No less than 46 per cent of mothers who appeared in the FDAC gave up drugs or alcohol at the end of their cases, compared to only 30 per cent of those in the mainstream family courts. In addition, 58 per cent of the FDAC mothers still abstained five years compared to less than a quarter of the other mothers.
Professor Judith Harwin of Lancaster University lead the research. She explained:
“The study has found encouraging new evidence that FDAC is better able to build on mothers’ potential to change in the short- and longer-term. The results indicate that, even after the FDAC intensive treatment ended, significantly more mothers stayed off illegal drugs and alcohol for longer and their families were more likely to stay together without experiencing major disruption.”
The researchers believe the FDAC model has proven its worth and its use should now be further extended across the country.