A FAMILY Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) pilot has been launched in Wales offering an alternative family court for children’s care and help keep families together.

The Welsh Government has provided £450,000 to support the pilot programme over a two year period. The Family Drug and Alcohol Court will offer an alternative approach to families where there are concerns about substance misuse by providing access to intensive treatment and support.

Drug and alcohol misuse are often a major contributor of suspected child abuse or neglect cases. With over a third of looked after children in Wales identified as having one or more parents with a substance or alcohol misuse issue.

The scheme will be initially available for families referred by Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan local authorities as a pilot scheme.

The court is overseen by specially trained judges and supported by independent multi-disciplinary assessment and intervention teams. Operational support is also being provided by the Centre for Justice Innovation (CJI) who have experience in delivering similar pilots in England.

Attending the launch Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said: “Supporting families experiencing substance misuse issues and helping families to continue looking after their children is a key priority. The Family Drug and Alcohol Court approach is central to this commitment.

“We know drugs and alcohol misuse are a major factor in suspected child abuse or neglect cases, where a local authority is taking parents to court. This new approach will work with parents to become free from substance abuse and help families remain together. We have seen promising evidence from similar Family Drug and Alcohol Court models and it is my hope this new court will have a positive effect on Welsh families. I will be very keen to see how this pilot develops over the next two years.”

Chief Social Care Officer, Albert Heaney said: “Social services have faced increased pressures and challenges in recent years. This new approach to family courts will not only help ease pressures on the system but help transform children’s services in Wales.

"We will be looking at the outcome of the pilot closely to consider opportunities to extend the Family Drug and Alcohol Court model across Wales.

“Our focus must be on keeping families together, through early help and preventative services provided at the right time for parents and children.”