Jim Richards studies an account of foster carers in Scotland;
Ged Smith looks at the effects on children of having alcoholic
parents; and Terry Bamford recommends an essential guide to changes
in social care
Jim Richards is director, Catholic Children's Society
Richard Velleman and Jim Orford
Harwood Academic Publishers
ISBN 90 5702 366 0
Excessive consumption of alcohol is now recognised as one of the
top health and social problems in the world, and in the UK there
are two to three million children living in circumstances where one
or both parents have a drinking problem. This book looks at what
happens to such children as they grow up, focussing on three
themes; what is the likelihood of these young adults developing
drinking problems themselves; of developing other problems; and are
some vulnerable while others are resilient?
The authors begin with four varied case studies which exemplify
how complex these questions are. They show that children of problem
drinkers are not destined to develop problems themselves, but that
their parents' drinking will have an impact in adulthood.
Typically, such children will be drawn into fights in their
families, act as peacemakers, have little or no fun, fulfil many
household tasks and often act as carers. They may experience
confusion, violence, unpredictability, embarrassment and
relationship problems, often with both parents. As children they
will often exhibit anti-social behaviour, school, emotional and
psychological problems. Yet despite all this they are a much
neglected group of people in the offices of the helping
professions, and have been called the "forgotten children".
What Velleman and Orford make clear, however, is that parental
drinking in itself is not necessarily at the root of all this. In
fact, the associated degree of parental conflict or hostility can
have a greater negative impact than anything else. They also point
out that the risk of children of problem drinkers going on to have
more problems themselves in adulthood than other young people has
been heavily overstated.
Just like physical or sexual abuse, the mechanisms of
transmission are complex and dependent on many variables.
Transmission is far from inevitable and a good relationship with a
significant other helps foster feelings of worthiness.
This book deals with its subject thoroughly and comprehensively
as you would expect from two authors so familiar with the topic.
Some of the research chapters may be too academic for the
non-specialist reader, but most of the book is very accessible and
highly informative in an area which, like the children referred to,
is too often neglected by workers in the field.
Ged Smith is a family therapist, Bexley and Greenwich NHS
The Changing Role of Social Care
Edited by Bob Hudson
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
ISBN 1 85302 752 9
The press of events in social care since the introduction of the
community care changes has been relentless, and has gathered pace
since the government launched its modernisation programme.
Bob Hudson has assembled a talented group of contributors who
offer perspectives on these changes in the private sector, the
voluntary sector and for users and carers. Like all collections the
quality is variable but there are some gems offering important
John Stewart sees the community leadership role of local
government as generating more fundamental changes than the changes
in local management arrangements. They demand a commitment to
partnership working. The partnership theme is followed through in
sections examining work across boundaries with housing and social
security and with the private and voluntary sectors.
Disappointingly, the partnership with health, which offers both
opportunities and threats to social care, is given cursory
treatment although Hudson has written extensively elsewhere on
Hardy and Wistow provide a stimulating analysis of the
continuing tension between local authorities and the private
sector. The former distrusts the profit orientation and sometimes
the competence of private providers, and the latter mistrusts the
competence and motives of local authorities. Hardy and Wistow's
research shows the gap between the two is one of perception. In
practice the values and approach of private sector providers are
similar to those of the public sector.
The emphasis on users and carers in the changing social care
system is reviewed by Twigg. The social model of disability has
become the dominant influence in the disability lobby, but Twigg
notes that many people with disabilities are locked in a world of
relative poverty and limited expectations.
Carers and users often have different aspirations as well as
different needs. The rhetoric of user empowerment sometimes melts
in the face of services cuts and rationing. Despite the
introduction of direct payments, few users wish to pursue their
power as purchasers to shape the market.
Mapping social care in flux gives clues to the future. This book
is an essential guide to the direction of travel.
Terry Bamford is a former executive director (housing and social
services), Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea