Our Turn Around for Children Service (TACS)
In Gloucestershire we have a Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) which is supported by our Turn Around for Children Service (TACS). Our TACS team is made up of multi-agency partners who offer intense support to parents with addiction. Parents in FDAC are used to a regime of intensive, therapeutic interventions, 3 times a week drug & alcohol testing and fortnightly court appearances before the FDAC Judge. Crucially important in this regime are the Non Lawyer Hearings (NLH) before the Judge with no lawyers present, just parents, Judge and FDAC team. These hearings are further facilitated by a short, evidence based report on how parents are progress, strengths, challenges and analysis. This motivational, problem solving hearing, which embodies the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence, has been evaluated as an agent of change.
The Turn Around for Children Service primary aim is to keep the court regime – which is emotionally containing for families and we considered of particular importance in a national pandemic – so this is what we did.
The Family Drug and Alcohol Court have full access to our Virtual Court rooms. We have worked with parents to understand their IT needs, both access to, and skills to use. Where necessary we have bought smart phones to enable the right apps to be downloaded to facilitate access to a secure phone hearing. We have bought data bundles for all families as we understood the additional costs of running a phone with apps that required internet access.
Included in the support package, parents have individual monthly intervention planning meetings.
We have clear guidance for parents on the ‘etiquette’ of appearing virtually, for example sitting in one place, not eating or drinking and not putting make-up on. Our Speech & Language Therapist supported with this guidance, providing accessible language and pictorial guidance.
Our virtual court room is in the local authority’s central building in Gloucester City (5 minutes walk from the actual court). This will support the parents in having the sense of formality and also access the support of TACS professionals who work out of this building.