A NEW court which aims to give unprecedented support to the children of alcoholics and drug addicts has been welcomed by one of Kidderminster’s leading family lawyers.
Child care specialist Robert Pearce, partner and head of the children law team at Kidderminster firm mfg Solicitors, has praised the formation of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) which has been launched to ensure quick decisions are made to assist families where parents are affected by alcohol or substance misuse.
The new court, which currently sits in London and Gloucester but which is set to expand into other parts of the country, allows parents to receive regular support from therapists and social workers, benefit from a team of guardians and see the same judge throughout any proceedings – options not always available in normal care cases.
Mr Pearce, who has sat on the Law Society’s Children Panel for over 20 years, said that FDACs should be introduced across all Family courts in England after research funded by the Nuffield Foundation highlighted that 35 per cent of substance-affected mothers are reunited with their children through an FDAC, compared with 19 per cent in a normal family court.
He said: “FDACs are only in a few small pockets of the UK at present but if funding is made available, I absolutely believe that Family courts could benefit greatly.
“It’s a specialist court which really does place a helping hand on the shoulders of children who have parents affected by alcohol or illegal substances. It has removed red tape and provided the type of professional support families have been craving – not forgetting the parents who are suffering from an addiction.
“The research funded by the Nuffield Foundation only underlines how successful extra support services for children and their parents can be and how they can help break any destructive cycle. The new FDAC, through a hand-picked team of experts, has helped to make unimaginable changes to their lives which enable them to provide proper care for their children.
“An investment into the formation of further FDACs would help to take the level of care and attention to a different level in England. I am certain we’d see another marked improvement in the number of families who are reunited.”
Mr Pearce’s comments were also echoed by Sir James Munby, president of the Family Court, who said FDACs are a “vital component” in the Family Court.
Plans are also in place to launch an FDAC in Milton Keynes this summer.