How the scheme works
The Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) can help families involved in care proceedings when there is parental substance misuse.
The court will provide parents with support to deal with the problems that led to the application for their child to be taken into care.
Experts attached to the court work with parents to help them overcome their problems while the court case is being decided. They will develop a support and treatment programme designed to meet the different needs of each family and will appoint a key worker in the team to work directly with parents and arrange the services in their treatment plan.
The plan will see what is possible for each family to achieve and could remove a child from their parents' care. The process is designed to help parents change their behaviour so they can safely care for their children.
The judge overseeing the case will hold regular meetings with parents to check how they are progressing and to provide advice and encourage change.
How do families become involved
The FDAC is being trialled by Newry Family Proceedings Court and the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.
The trial will only involve care cases brought by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. If a care application is being made, the family’s social worker will think about whether they might benefit from the FDAC. The FDAC team will meet with parents and their solicitor before the first court hearing to explain how the court works. Parents can then decide whether they wish to take part or to have their case decided using the traditional process.
If parents agree to take part, they will be assessed by the team to make sure the programme is right for them and to decide the best treatment plan. If everyone agrees after the assessment that the FDAC can help the family, the treatment programme will begin.
The FDAC is designed to give families the best chance of overcoming problems linked to drugs or alcohol but parents who have doubts or questions about how the court works can talk to their social worker, solicitor or the FDAC team.