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DfE evaluation of the family drug and alcohol court (FDAC) national unit published

National Unit perceived to have had critical role in the set-up of new FDACs

The Department for Education has published an evaluation of the performance and effectiveness of the family drug and alcohol court (FDAC) national unit.

The FDAC offers an alternative form of care proceedings for children put at risk of significant harm by parental substance misuse and other difficulties.

This report outlines the national unit's three main areas of work:

Nine new FDACs were created in the first year of the National Unit. The research indicates that the National Unit was perceived to have played a critical role in the set-up of new FDACs.

The National Unit's key achievements in relation to supporting the creation of new FDACs included increasing awareness and understanding of the key benefits of FDAC and the steps involved in setting up a new court; fostering commitment to FDAC among local stakeholders who were essential to service success; and bolstering the skills required to efficiently and successfully roll-out FDAC at the local level.

The National Unit also played a significant role in communicating and convincing new sites of the benefits of closely delivering key elements of the FDAC service.

The National Unit was seen as having an important ongoing role in relation to sustainability through strengthening the evidence base on the relative costs and benefits of FDAC; working with sites to formulate a compelling business case; and continuing to keep problem-solving courts on the political agenda as well as maintaining commitment to FDAC among stakeholders and potential funders. Since data were collected for this evaluation the National Unit has carried out this work.

Participants believed the continued involvement of the National Unit was critical to any future evaluation of the FDAC model, as the Unit helped to ensure a systematic approach to data collection through producing resources, such as data collection tools, information, support and guidance.

Participants described, and the report outlines, a number of factors which appear to have supported or reduced progress towards the National Unit's 3 long-term outcomes.

After a single year of operation, it was felt there was the potential for success because participants were convinced of the rationale for FDAC; had confidence in the National Unit; and, in some cases, believed there were early indications of progress. Specific ways in which the continued existence of the National Unit was expected to contribute to longer-term change included:

Consequently, participants felt it was important that the National Unit received sufficient funding to be able to continue to deliver a high quality programme of work in order to sustain new FDACs and achieve longer-term change.

For the report, click here.