Training resources

    Tony Goodman and Amy Weir review useful materials for those
    planning inter-agency training on drug abuse and integration of
    school and family support.

    Substance misuse and child care: How to understand, assist
    and intervene when drugs affect parenting

    Fiona Harbin and Michael Murphy
    Russell House Publishing
    4 St George’s House
    The Business Park, Uplyme Road
    Lyme Regis
    Dorset DT7 3LS
    £14.95

    This publication, which looks at the effects substance misuse
    has on parenting, is not strictly training material. It is,
    however, a useful resource or reader for those planning
    inter-agency training from a variety of professional
    perspectives.

    In the preface, Keith Hellawell gives the official view on
    substance abuse. This is backed up by two appendices giving
    information on amphetamine, cocaine and crack cocaine, heroin and
    other opiates, as well as brief facts on the child protection
    system.

    Throughout, much information is given to the reader in a clear,
    straightforward manner. Early chapters cover lessons from research,
    including making detailed assessments of children’s needs,
    without making assumptions that substance-abuse by a parent must
    mean the child is at risk; assumptions about social exclusion; and
    the danger not just of over-reaction, but also that the needs of
    the young person can be overlooked when parents’ needs are
    being worked with.

    There is an excellent chapter by Kamlesh Patel, which explores
    the myths of ethnic minority drug users and deconstructs the myth
    that Asian people do not use drugs.

    The second half looks at therapeutic provision, using case
    studies, including substance misuse and pregnancy. The use of
    groups with young people is discussed; many were no longer living
    with their parents and there was a clear need for these young
    people to explore what had happened. The child vignettes revealed
    hurt, angry and suspicious emotions.

    One section on solution-focused therapy, including motivational
    interviewing, is clearly written and the case examples with short
    transcripts are comprehensive. It could form the basis for a
    training session, and demonstrates that work with substance abusers
    requires knowledge, skills and a confidence to explore personal
    issues – skilled work but achievable.

    Dr Tony Goodman is senior lecturer in social science at
    Middlesex University.

     

    Supporting schools, supporting families

    Carol Hayden, Julie Lawrence, Dwynwen Stephen
    Social Services Research & Information Unit
    St Georges Building
    141 High Street
    Portsmouth PO1 2HY
    £5

    This evaluation of a joint school and family support team is a
    useful training resource for promoting joined-up working.

    The team is based in a small unitary authority and the
    evaluation covered its first two years of operation, 1997-9. The
    study is able to demonstrate some of the key ingredients for how to
    develop a shared vision and responsibility across departments –
    education and social services in this case.

    The team was set up to address the high number of school
    exclusions in the authority and it targeted 8-12 year olds. The
    multi-disciplinary team of psychologists, part-time social worker
    and family centre staff used a variety of different approaches:
    individual casework, consultation, liaison and subsequently
    groupwork. The work was as much about changing systems in the
    authority as about working with the children.

    This produced interesting findings about the different groups of
    vulnerable children it identified – disaffected children, those
    with complex needs and those with school-related difficulties. The
    greatest benefit the team provided was that it covered the whole
    local authority area with a coherently structured support service.
    However, the level of social worker involvement in the team seems
    to have limited some of their activities and there seemed to be a
    lack of clarity in the report about the social worker role.

    Nevertheless, the recommendations of this study could be helpful
    in bringing together education and social services staff in
    training to consider what models might be used locally to improve
    targeting of and support of vulnerable children at school.

    Amy Weir is an inspector at the Department of
    Health.

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