Intervene when parents misuse drugs, says minister

Evidence suggests social workers should intervene more when working with drug misusing parents, Scottish education minister Peter Peacock said at the Association of Directors of Social Work’s annual conference today.

The minister added that he recognised making decisions on whether to remove children from drug addicts “is never easy” and down to professional judgement.

“Senior people are saying we need to intervene more quickly and be less trusting of what drug abusing parents are saying. I think the pendulum has to move slightly more to the centre ground.”

On work with drug misusing parents Peacock also said: “What we are intolerant of is when simple procedures fail to be followed. It infuriates us when best practice doesn’t happen.”

David Crawford, new ADSW president, said he supported the extension of drug testing and treatment orders – currently only available to offenders – for use in certain cases when dealing with drug addict parents.

Scottish ministers are considering introducing controversial new powers to allow social workers to carry out random tests on parents they suspect of abusing drugs.

Peacock told ADSW delegates in Crieff that random drug testing is one of a number of specific measures the executive is thinking about introducing. The measure, unveiled in Hidden Harm – Next Steps published by the executive this week, is touted as a way of helping social workers identify when a parent has a substance misuse problem and whether they are telling the truth about staying clean.

Peacock said the welfare of children of drug misusing parents is “a big issue for society and one you can expect the first minister to keep talking about.”



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