The first specialist court for parents with drug and alcohol problems in the UK is to be piloted by Camden Council in London, in the hope of reducing the number of children going into care.
The court, which will be set up next year subject to further funding being secured, would offer same-day referrals for help, advice and support in cases where children might have to go into care because of their parents’ substance misuse.
Two-thirds of all care cases coming to courts in Camden and neighbouring Islington and Westminster are because of parental substance misuse, according to a study commissioned by the councils last year to look at the feasibility of introducing the court.
Specialist drug and alcohol courts are used widely across the USA, where early findings have suggested they have been successful in enabling more children in care to return home because their parents have engaged with substance misuse services.
A judge, substance misuse specialists and social workers would be able to put support in place for parents willing to engage with the court, under the proposed three-year London pilot.
Katherine Doran, assistant director for safeguarding and social care at Camden Council, said child care proceedings would not be started unless parents had failed to engage with the support on offer. “If parents do not engage, then we hope the proceedings will be much quicker,” she said.Related articles
Contact the author