Winners of the 2011 RCPsych Psychiatric Team of the Year
Family Drug & Alcohol Court Intervention Team
The Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust
The Family Drug & Alcohol Court intervention Team helps
families when children are put at risk by their parent’s substance
misuse. They have recently been highlighted by the Family
Justice Review and the Munro reviews and had a positive evaluation
by Brunel University.
The judges said:
We were impressed by the innovative work in an
extremely challenging and potentially risky area of work.
They have translated a model developed in the USA well for use in
the UK, and applied appropriate governance and audit. This is
a multi-disciplinary team with user and peer mentor input linking
well with the judiciary.
Innovation: Parental substance misuse
puts children at risk. Forrester and Harwin (2006) found
parental substance misuse was a significant risk factor in 62% of
Family courts for parents with drug and
alcohol problems have been running in the US for about ten
years. However, there is no agreed approach to treatment and
our ‘trial for change’ model was developed from scratch.
Because it has been hard to find services that
help parents build a better relationship with their children, we
have created our own using a novel combination of evidence-based
Leadership and teamwork: The team has
several experienced leaders, but it is teamwork that makes the
project effective. We have a very clear model that helps us
to break down a very complex task into manageable steps.
Likewise every member of the team has clear tasks and there is
respect for the different perspectives, whether it is Parent
Mentor and Judge or the child and adolescent specialist.
Effective use of resources: An
independent evaluation of the service carried out by Professor
Harwin of Brunel University has found that compared to usual
services, FDAC delivered:
- Hard cases with lengthy
histories of substance misuse, high rates of domestic violence,
mental health problems, offending and experience of being in
care in childhood.
- Higher rates of parent-child
reunification (39% vs. 21%).
- Swifter permanent placement
for children not returned (7 weeks).
- Less time in foster care for
children (at an average cost of £7,875 vs. £12,068).
- More parents who stop
substance misuse (46% vs 37%).
- Less court time required at
a third of the cost.
- “The parents were
overwhelmingly positive in their comments about the team.
They described them in terms such as ‘helpful’, supportive’,
life-changing’ and ‘fantastic’.
Want to know more?
If you would like to find out
more about Family Drug & Alcohol Court Intervention
Team, or want to contact the team lead, please contact