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
Dorset DT7 3LS
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
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
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
Supporting schools, supporting families
Carol Hayden, Julie Lawrence, Dwynwen Stephen
Social Services Research & Information Unit
St Georges Building
141 High Street
Portsmouth PO1 2HY
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