The chair of Edinburgh’s drug action team has backed a new
protocol for dealing with parents with substance misuse problems
but admitted it would be difficult to implement.
Tom Wood said it would be a “real challenge” for substance
misuse workers in four councils to implement the guidance because
of the extra responsibilities it would put on them and increased
pressure on resources.
The protocol asks child care agencies to find out whether
parents have substance misuse problems. Drug and alcohol action
team staff are then required to assess the impact of a parent’s
substance misuse on their family.
Last month, social workers complained the new guidance was
unworkable with current staffing levels and that it could frighten
off some clients.
But Wood said these legitimate fears must be overcome. “It is a
communication challenge for professionals to make sure clients
understand they are not a threat and are not going to go out
wholesale to take children into care and split up families.”
Wood said changes to the system were inevitable because it had
been shown to be at fault in the death of 11-week-old Caleb Ness,
who died as a result of a brain haemorrhage after being shaken by
his father. An investigation found his mother’s drug dependency and
father’s violent past had not been taken into account when
assessing care arrangements.
The protocol was drawn up by the inter-agency pan-Midlothian
working group (which covers Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian and
West Lothian Councils).
Wood is chair of the Edinburgh Action Team on Alcohol and