Four out of every 10 children on the child protection register
and 62 per cent of those subject to care proceedings, have parents
who are involved in substance misuse, according to a recent study,
writes Amy Taylor.
The research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, is the first
large scale British study of social work cases involving parental
substance misuse. It covers four London local authorities and found
that parental substance misuse affects more than one-third of all
cases dealt with by social services.
Alcohol, crack cocaine and heroin predominated and alcohol
misuse was most frequent. It was responsible for 41 of the 100
families dealt with over the year and was combined with drug misuse
in a further 27 families. Drug misuse alone was found in 32
The study also found that although parents’ alcohol misuse
caused the most harm to children, social services are much quicker
to react if crack cocaine or heroin are involved.
The report by Donald Forrester, lecturer in social work,
Goldsmiths College, London, and Judith Harwin, professor of social
work, Brunel Univiersity, is still to be published.