The children of parents who use drugs and alcohol are being put at risk because agencies are failing to intervene quickly enough, according to Scotland’s largest children’s charity.
Aberlour Child Care Trust saya in a new report that health professionals, child and family social workers, and addiction services need to link up to identify when children are at risk as soon as possible. It warns that the under-funding of services often means that professionals only step in when problems have become severe.
Report author Patricia Russell said more children needed to be removed from home for at least a short period of time. Current estimates suggest nearly 60,000 children in Scotland are affected by parental drug use, and more than 100,000 by parental alcohol abuse.
“Children are suffering from hidden harm because of the concealment in households where parents abuse alcohol or drugs,” Russell said. “All policies and guidance in child protection say that focusing on the child is paramount, but still services tend to relate to adults foremost.
“There needs to be a culture shift where drug and alcohol services consider children –which isn’t necessarily within their remit – and children’s services are given the training to deal with drug and alcohol issues.”
The charity has developed a series of recommendations in conjunction with health and social care professionals to improve early intervention, which are due to be discussed at a seminar held this week.
Aberlour chief executive Romy Langeland said she wanted to influence current policies and practice: “There is growing feeling that something more must be done to help children whose lives and future prospects are being affected by a problem over which they have not control.”
Have We Got Our Priorities Right? from www.aberlour.org.uk