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Family Drug and Alcohol Courts

FDACs are an innovative approach to care proceedings providing intensive support to parents during proceedings to overcome the substance misuse and related problems that has put their children at risk of significant harm.

This project is being scaled by Supporting Families

Project Description

FDAC offers a more successful way than standard care proceedings of helping parents to overcome the substance misuse, mental health and related problems that have put their children at risk of significant harm. In helping parents to change it also contributes to breaking the cycle of parents coming back into proceedings to have further children removed.

Innovation Programme funding supported the growth of FDAC nationally by enabling the establishment and maintenance of FDACs in four new family justice areas, for 12 new local authorities. It also supported the establishment of a national development unit.

Part funding was provided for all local authorities to set up an FDAC specialist team. The FDAC National Unit provided intensive support around set-up in the sites and co-ordinated prsctice sharing between them.

The FDAC National Unit closed in September 2018. In April 2019, the Centre for Justice Innovation established a new national partnership to support current and new Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDACs) across the country. The Centre is hosting and directing the national team, working in partnership with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust and RyanTunnard Brown.


The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2017 found that: The National Unit has played a critical role in the successful set-up of new FDACs and is expected to have a significant ongoing role in supporting the sustainability of FDACs and to strengthening the evidence-base on the efficacy of the model. Nine new FDACs were created in the first year of the National Unit. The expertise, commitment and hard work of the National Unit helped to ensure that new FDACs were more successful, less resource intensive and quicker to set-up and deliver than previously.

After FDAC: outcomes 5 years later (2016) Harwin J et al A follow up of FDAC and comparison cases which established that the better outcomes achieved through FDAC in relation to parental substance misuse and reunification were sustained five years after proceedings ended. Problem Solving Courts: Current Practice in FDACs in England (2016) Tunnard J et al This report is based on observations carried out in all FDACs and interviews with Judges and demonstrates that all FDACs are following problem solving principles and operating with fidelity to the model.

Lead Organisation

Centre for Justice Innovation



Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust






Phil Bowen,

Vicki Morris


Funding Information

Funding theme: Other

Total amount awarded


Round 1 Jan 2015

Other information