£100,000 fund to help Bedfordshire families with drug and alcohol problems
A groundbreaking scheme has been set up to help families in Bedfordshire who are struggling with drug and alcohol problems.
Two Family, Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDACs) have been set up, which are shown to increase the likelihood of parents beating addiction and retaining care of their children five years on by 50 per cent.
And a specialist domestic abuse expert is also being funded to support parents attending the court.
Funding for the overall project has come from Luton, Bedford and Central Bedfordshire councils, as well as police and crime commissioner Kathryn Holloway, and local charity The Marks Trust.
There are 11 FDACs across the country, but the project in Bedfordshire the first to be established in conjunction with other agencies outside of social services; one court will be in Bedford and the other in Luton.
Lead judge Patrick Peruško said: "I'm absolutely delighted that so many agencies have come together and seen the benefits that FDACs can bring to troubled families in Bedfordshire.
"Children belong in families. That is where they deserve to be. FDAC gives them the best chance to be with their parents by helping parents achieve and maintain abstinence in a problem solving, therapeutic, court process.
"Bedfordshire Family Drug and Alcohol Court is the first FDAC nationally to secure support from our police and crime commissioner who also recognised the benefits of funding a specialist domestic abuse worker to work within the team.
"That commitment has drawn in other partners to work alongside children's services in Bedford, Luton and Central Bedfordshire. Public Health in all three authorities and Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group are partners. No other FDAC has such a broad base of support."
Commissioner Kathryn Holloway added: “It’s fair to say that Judge Peruško had me convinced and signing on the dotted line where financial support was required within the first hour of meeting me.
"What was absolutely obvious was not only that Patrick was full of energy and a real passion for the benefits but, having run the Family Drug and Alcohol Courts in Milton Keynes, he’d seen the enormous benefits for himself."