This two-year evaluation of the first Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) in Wales aims to support the delivery and development of FDAC in Wales, and enable a rigorous large-scale evaluation in future.


The UK’s first FDAC was piloted in London between 2008 and 2011, and the model is widely deemed to be successful in reducing the number of children in care through family reunification. As a result, FDAC in the UK has been growing steadily, with 16 FDAC teams currently working in 24 courts and serving 37 local authorities. Cardiff and Vale is Wales’ first FDAC. Through this evaluation, we are aiming to support the effective delivery of FDAC in Wales, set the scene for a larger-scale evaluation, fill gaps in our understanding and update our theory of how FDAC works to achieve positive outcomes for children and families. 

Activities and Methods

This is a mixed-methods, realist evaluation in three phases, running from November 2021 – January 2024.

Phase 1: This phase will include interviews with professional stakeholders as the pilot is being established, in order to ascertain their expectations for the pilot, experiences of its set-up, and identify barriers and facilitators of the implementation of FDAC in Wales. Simultaneously, we will carry out a policy and research review.

Phase 2: We will interview families and professional stakeholders, in addition to observing court hearings, at various time points throughout proceedings. Qualitative data obtained during this phase will be used to produce, test and refine updated versions of a previously developed programme theory in iterative cycles using realist synthesis.

Phase 3: We will conduct follow up interviews with the same families involved in Phase 2 (as far as possible). We will also analysise quantitative data collected by the FDAC site and finalise our programme theory of how FDAC works in Wales.


Interim findings

Full evaluation findings will be available in late 2023 / early 2024.

Lead Person

Principal InvestigatorDavid Westlake

Academic Staff

Co-InvestigatorMelissa Meindl
FundersCentre for Justice Innovation, Welsh Government