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14 SEP 2012

How does the Family Drug and Alcohol Court fit with the current changes to family justice?

Mary Ryan, Judith Harwin, Gemma Lewis & Jo Tunnard:

The Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) has been operating since January 2008 as a unique problem-solving court for care cases involving parental substance misuse. The Family Justice Review (FJR) concluded that FDAC showed ‘considerable promise' and recommended further limited roll out to enable continued development of the evidence base.  This article examines the extent to which the FDAC approach fits with the current changes to family justice.  It argues that, although there are tensions between the FDAC approach and the six month time limit for care proceedings and the aim to reduce the use of experts, there are many aspects of the approach that are in line with the recommendations in the FJR and which have the potential to improve outcomes for children and parents, as well as improving the experience of care proceedings for all those involved. It agrees with the FJR that wider roll out of the model is important in order to provide opportunities to further test the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of this problem solving approach to care proceedings, but notes that this will be a challenge in the current climate of financial restraint.

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