We now have the means to reinvigorate efforts to spread the benefits of the model far wider

The Centre for Justice Innovation to support the work of family drug and alcohol courts

Posted on 14 Feb in

Phil Bowen

Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDAC) are an innovative, problem-solving and evidence based intervention. FDACs deliver better outcomes for families and children involved in the public family law justice system. We are therefore honoured that a group of private backers and philanthropists have pledged more than £280,000 over four and half years to fund a new national partnership, led by the Centre, in order to support and extend the FDAC model across the family justice system.
In taking forward this role, we are delighted to be working in partnership with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust staff, who will contribute to the training of new FDAC teams and judges as well as providing advice on the setting up of new FDACs, and with RyanTunnardBrown, whose experience in helping formulate the original FDAC structure and their involvement in rolling out the model in recent years.
This responsibility will commence on 1st April 2019 and our mission is to create a team that sets up new sites and improves practice in existing sites, ensures that practice is shared between FDACs, coordinates data collection and uses it to improve operations through operational research, and provides a national voice for and promotion of the FDAC model.
There is no dispute about the value of the work undertaken by the FDACs since they were first established. They get to the root of difficulties faced by parents struggling with substance misuse using a therapeutic, problem-solving approach, giving vulnerable children a better start in life, keeping families together and saving taxpayer money. The FDAC National Unit was instrumental in growing the FDAC network from one pilot court in London to 13 such courts across the UK during a decade in which the number of applications to the family courts for care proceedings actually doubled.
We now have the means to reinvigorate efforts to spread the benefits of the model far wider and to work with others in both national and local government as well as in the judiciary to secure additional funding and support for FDACs to carry out their work well into the future.
Obviously, this work could not have happened— indeed FDAC would not have happened at all— with Nick Crichton’s earnest work in this area. I hope that Nick would be delighted that a partnership has been put in place which is dedicated to strengthening the approach which he championed for so long. During the course of the last seven months of discussions about how best to safeguard its future, he and all the Unit’s supporters remained convinced of its national importance.
Following the closure of the FDAC national unit in September 2018, a fundraising campaign was launched by the co-founders of Hall Brown Family Law following a meeting with Nick and the Earl of Listowel, who is one of the FDACs’ most prominent parliamentary advocates. It was subsequently backed by LCM Wealth, which advises high net worth families; family law firm Family Law in Partnership; and AddCounsel, a provider of bespoke behavioural health programmes.
Together with other anonymous supporters, they have agreed to cover the costs of an initial six-month test period starting in April and – if our trial is successful – the part-funding of the new partnership’s first four full years of operation.
Even though ministers were unable to provide funding in the summer, we appreciate the previous role of Government in fostering the growth of the FDAC network and remain hopeful that they will be able to contribute to their continued growth once more.