Posted: 19th October 2016
Author: Kieran Brockerton-baker

FDAC AND PAUSE – THE WAY TO ADDRESS THE RISING NUMBER OF CARE CASES?

holding hands

Many parents whose children are subject to care proceedings in England and Wales have underlying issues which are the cause of intervention being necessary, whether this is misuse of substances, alcohol or a general inability to parent. The President of the High Court’s Family Division, Sir James Munby, identified that one of the keys to solving the problem in rising numbers of care cases is to tackle the problem at its source. He believes that in doing so, the likelihood of the same “repeat customers” within the Family Court arena will decrease.

Sir James Munby refers to FDAC and PAUSE as possible solutions to the problem:

What is FDAC?

FDAC stands for Family Drug and Alcohol Court. Its aim is to improve the outcomes for children subject to care proceedings by working with parents of those children to solve the problem. It has been successful in helping parents to overcome mental health issues, substance misuse, alcohol issues and domestic abuse problems which have put their children at risk of serious harm.

Parents who have a significant drug and/or alcohol problem qualify for their case to be considered for the FDAC “scheme” but only if they are willing to tackle the problem.

The FDAC scheme differs from the more traditional route for care proceedings as it involves an intensive programme of drug intervention and parenting assessments. Parents are required to engage with a number of professionals and attend several appointments a week, often having numerous appointments on the same day. This is in addition to ensuring they attend contact sessions on time and in an appropriate state. The case will be heard regularly by a Judge who will hear updates from all of the professionals involved with the parents on the progress being made by the parents.

Tackling a drug and/or alcohol addiction can be a lengthy process and therefore FDAC is considered as an exception to the 26 weeks allowed for your standard care proceedings, provided that the parents can evidence motivation to change and the ability to maintain that change and well as it being deemed to be within the children’s timescales. (Re S: A child [2014] EWCC B44 (Fam)).

For more information on FDAC see the following link: https://fdac.org.uk/.

What is PAUSE?

PAUSE is a programme which is aimed at women who have had numerous children removed from their care. PAUSE aims to intervene with these women at a point in their lives when the women have no children in their care. It aims to break the cycle by working with women to create a better future for themselves.

PAUSE in an intensive programme which includes therapeutic work and behavioural and practical support. Each programme is designed to meet the specific needs of each case and is personal to the women involved with a view to tackling the core problem and the reasons why these women are involved in numerous care proceedings and having their children removed from their care.

PAUSE currently only has funding from the Department for Education’s Innovation Fund to pilot PAUSE in seven Local Authorities. It hopes to secure more funding with a view to eventually being able to offer women all over the country the same opportunity to engage with their programme of support.

For more information on PAUSE see their website at: https://www.pause.org.uk/

Does the answer lie with new-generation Courts like FDAC or intervention programmes like PAUSE or are their other solutions? It remains to be seen…