Nagalro has slammed the imminent closure of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court National Unit as “short-sighted and financially illiterate”.
Following an emergency meeting about the closure of the unit last week attended by former children’s minister Tim Loughton, Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck, the Earl of Listowel fro the House of Lords, researcher Professor Karen Broadhurst, chief executive of the Family Rights Group Cathy Ashley and retired District Judge Nicholas Crichton, Nagalro has condemned the planned closure.
“Whilst acknowledging that the closure will not directly lead to the closure of any of the 10 current FDACs, Nagalro is concerned that, without the National Unit to support, train and promote those bodies and to maintain consistency, they will simply be left to wither on the vine,” said a statement from Nagalro.
“One by one, cash-strapped local authorities, encouraged by the withdrawal of central government support, will find that funds can be directed elsewhere. Without the co-ordination, training and promotional activities of the National Unit, it is unlikely that new FDACs will be set up,” the statement added.
The statement from the Professional Association for Children's Guardians, Family Court Advisers and Independent Social Workers went on to say it was a “tragedy” for the families who are helped by the FDAC, a severe blow to the children and, in the medium to long-term will mean increased costs to the public.
The decision to close the National Unit in September came with no explanation and against a backgroup of research showing the benefits of the FDAC.
Indeed, Nagalro highlighted research prepared by Professor Judith Harwin and others in December 2016 for the Department for Education’s Social Care Innovation Programme following a five-year study, which found:
- 46 per cent of FDAC mothers had ceased to misuse by the end of the proceedings, compared to 30 per cent in the comparison group;
- 37 per cent of the FDAC families were reunited or continued to live together, compared to 25 per cent of families in conventional proceedings;
- 35 per cent of children in FDAC cases were returned to mothers who were no longer misusing, against 21 per cent from ordinary care proceedings;
- 58 per cent of FDAC reunification mothers sustained their abstinence over the five-year study, compared to 24 per cent of the comparison families;
- 51 per cent of the FDAC mothers who were reunited with their children at the end of the proceedings experienced no disruption during the follow-up three years, compared to 22 per cent of the others.
“Whilst acknowledging that the FDAC is not a panacea, the authors stated that the evidence showed ‘that FDAC is more successful than ordinary services in minimising risk, keeping families together and helping parents to sustain substance misuse recovery’,” said Nagalro’s statement.
“The report recommended ‘that FDAC is a helpful model that should be made available more widely and sustained in the longer term.’ Where, Nagalro asks, is the evidence to justify the government’s rejection of this?”
“The concept of spending a pound to save spending 10 later is well enough known; but seems sadly lost on the present administration,” the statement concluded.