Independent research published by Brunel and Lancaster University and RyanTunnardBrown in 2014 and in 2016 comparing FDAC to ordinary care proceedings has confirmed that the outcomes for children and families in FDAC are far better than in normal care proceedings. The 2016 study provides information on child and maternal outcomes at the end of the care proceedings, reporting on outcomes up to five years after the end of proceedings. The study found:
- A significantly higher proportion of FDAC than comparison mothers had ceased to misuse by the end of proceedings (46% v 30%);
- A significantly higher proportion of FDAC than comparison families were reunited or continued to live together at the end of proceedings (37% v 25%);
- A significantly higher proportion of FDAC than comparison reunification mothers (58% v 24%) were estimated to sustain cessation over the five-year follow up;
- A significantly higher proportion of FDAC than comparison mothers who had been reunited with their children at the end of proceedings were estimated to experience no disruption to family stability at 3 year follow up (51% v 22%).
Separate research also confirms that parents and professionals were overwhelmingly positive about the FDAC model, praising both the skills of the team in motivating and engaging parents and describing FDAC proceedings as much more collaborative and less adversarial than ordinary care proceedings. They considered that the regular and ongoing conversation with the judge was a particularly important aspect of the process. They noted that the ‘trial for change’ approach provided a fair and open test of the parents’ capacity to change. The researchers found that the judges were unanimous in their support for the FDAC approach which they described as a more compassionate way of responding to the parental difficulties that put children at risk of harm.