Released on 06 December 2011
A family, drug and alcohol court and a project to reduce violence in families are joint winners of the first London Safeguarding Children Awards.
The pioneering awards highlight innovative ideas and best practice to improve the protection of children in the capital. Local authorities, health workers and the police who provide this vital service nominated examples of their work, including projects with other agencies and charities.
One of the joint winners is the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) which aims to improve the outcomes of children whose parents misuse drugs or alcohol.
The first of its kind in England and Wales, the court motivates and encourages parents to tackle drug or alcohol misuse in cases where a local authority has issued care proceedings.
A family chosen for the FDAC will go through a slightly different process to normal care proceedings, with more regular court hearings and the same judge throughout the process. They will also be offered intensive support by the independent multi -disciplinary team attached to the court.
‘Parent mentors’ - who have overcome similar problems - also offer emotional support to parents who are going through the system.
In cases where parents have been unable to address their substance misuse, the court enables swift decision-making to remove the child.
The FDAC was set up by Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and the children’s charity Coram. It is commissioned and part-funded by Camden, Islington, Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham councils.
The other joint winner is The Non-Violent Resistance Project which seeks to reduce violence in families by addressing destructive behaviour in children and adolescents. The Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust in Bexley and Greenwich runs The Non-Violent Resistance Project through a series of parenting groups. The programme helps parents and carers to overcome feelings of helplessness through support networks in and outside the home.
It is based on the methods and philosophy of the non-violent civil rights’ leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King. Parents who took part in the programme have described how it helped them to rebuild relationships with their children and reduce levels of distress in their family.