County-wide partnership to help families affected by drug & alcohol problems

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Families

A system is to be adopted across Bedfordshire to help parents overcome serious drug or alcohol problems and keep their families together, where possible.

The Pan Bedfordshire Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) is a partnership between the county’s three local authorities.

Parental substance misuse puts children at risk of harm, according to a report to Central Bedfordshire Council’s children’s services overview and scrutiny committee.

“FDAC parents will be recognising they are in a bad place, but are willing to accept help to make the right choices and work towards safely looking after their children,” said the report.

Cllr James Valentine, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services and Education said, “Bedford Borough welcomes partnership working providing support to families in crisis across the county.

“FDAC has a specialist team using a bespoke problem-solving approach working with families to support complex difficulties. Keeping families together in a happy, safe environment is our priority.”

Pan Bedfordshire FDAC team leader Beverley Sorensen told the committee: “Where there’s concern about parental substance misuse, traditionally there ends up being concern about significant harm and the impact on children, and that tends to end up in care proceedings.

“This initiative intervenes in a different way,” she explained. “It’s a less combative approach and brings parents to the table to engage with judges and other professionals to effect change.
“Within FDAC, 40 to 45 per cent make changes and have children return to their care. The alternative is those children end up in long-term foster care or being adopted.
“If parents are denying substance misuse there’s no point us in wasting valuable resource pushing them into change for which they haven’t got that internal motivation.
“The key thing about FDAC is parents are forced to go into care proceedings,” she said.
“They can chose to accept FDAC or they can go down the standard care proceedings route.
“As an authority, we can see a reduction in care proceedings and repeat child care plans, so the outcomes for children are improved by this intervention.”
An official event for the FDAC court in Bedford will be on 17 October.

By Euan Duncan with additional reporting by Erica Roffe