Courts which help parents deal with drug or alcohol addiction so they can keep their children are to be opened in more areas of England.

London has had a Family Drug and Alcohol Court for seven years, and courts have opened more recently in Gloucestershire and Milton Keynes.

More will now open in areas including East Sussex, Kent and Medway, Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter, and West Yorkshire.

Funding for the expansion comes from the Department for Education.

Most families that come into care proceedings have at least one parent with a drink or drug problem.

D FDAC founder

Unlike the traditional family court, the FDAC has its own team of experts and doctors - it is often described as a "therapeutic" process.

Parents come up before the court every fortnight, seeing the same judge every time.

Usually their children are placed temporarily with other family members or in foster care, while the parents concentrate on their detox, therapy and treatments - an intensive programme usually taking 26 weeks.

They undergo regular testing to make sure they are not secretly drinking or taking drugs.

An evaluation last year of the London FDAC by Brunel University, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found 35% of mothers managed to kick their addictions, so their children could be returned safely to them, compared with 19% of mothers who go through ordinary family courts.

However, the sample group was relatively small: just over 200 families in all.

The London FDAC only sits once a week, and deals with a relatively small number of cases, about 30 a year at the moment.


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