Cases are referred into an FDAC team by local authorities. The specialist team is multi-disciplinary, with the skills and expertise to work together – and with a wide range of other services – to provide an intensive intervention that is tailored to meet the needs of each parent.
There is discussion between the local authority and the specialist team before any referral. The process followed by the team is similar whether the case is in proceedings or not.
Substance misuse specialists and social workers from the team carry out an early and quick assessment of the parents. An intervention plan is agreed at a meeting attended by the parents, social workers and guardian.
The parents then begin a ‘trial for change’. The team provide a key worker for the parent who does direct work with the parent and co-ordinates all the services identified in the plan. The team also carry out drug and alcohol testing, and, in cases in proceedings, they prepare regular short reports on the parents’ progress and they attend court reviews. Intervention planning review meetings are held at regular intervals, to agree any changes to the plan and decide on future action.
Specially-trained judges provide parents with regular and continuous supervision and support, and the same judge hears the case from start to finish. There is regular communication between the team and the judge in relation to cases in court, and between the team and relevant adult and children’s services as well as with housing services and domestic abuse services and with legal representatives.
Fortnightly court reviews provide opportunities for regular monitoring of parental progress and setbacks. Lawyers do not usually attend, giving the FDAC judge time to engage and motivate parents, speak directly to them and their social worker, and draw people into finding ways of resolving problems.