New family court to tackle drug and alcohol problems

A new court has been set up to resolve family matters relating to drug and alcohol problems.

The new court will be based at the Wolverhampton court centre
The new court will be based at the Wolverhampton court centre

The Black Country Family Drug and Alcohol Court, which will be based at the Wolverhampton court centre, in Pipers Row, hopes to reduce the number of children being taken into local authority care by tackling problems relating to parental substance misuse.

It will be run by Change Grow Live, a charity which specialises in drug and alcohol rehabilitation courses, initially operating on a three-year trial basis.

While the charity has been commissioned by Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell councils, it will run independently of the local authorities and seek to solve problems within families involved in care proceedings, to avoid the need for children to be taken into care.

After an initial assessment, families will be invited to sign up to a programme to make long-term changes to their lifestyles, so their children can continue living with them.

Specialist judges will hold fortnightly reviews to examine the progress being made.

The charity said support would be given for families across areas including substance misuse, parental mental health, domestic abuse, housing and benefits.

Families will also have access to social workers, family workers, psychologists, and clinical services.

The charity claims parents who go through the specialist courts are 50 per cent more likely to have their children returned to them at the end of the proceedings.

Kerry Trinder, the charity's head of services in the Black Country, said: “Belief in people’s ability to change their own lives is woven into the fabric of Change Grow Live. The Family Drug and Alcohol Court provides parents with a genuine opportunity to address the problems that have led to care proceedings."

“We are able to work with parents to address issues at all levels, not just substance misuse. By taking part in the initiative, we hope to support more families, with the ultimate aim of allowing children to grow up at home.”

The charity said the new court would seek to solve the root causes that led to local authorities to bring about care proceedings, and would not only tackle substance abuse, but would also address the underlying factors, such as mental health and childhood trauma.

Councillor Tim Wilson, of Walsall Council, said: “I am confident that this collaboration will continue over the next three years of this pilot.”

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