Staff failing to deal with use by parents

Substance misuse among parents is the most common difficulty facing children’s social workers, according to a new study.

More than half of the children referred to social workers whose parents were involved in substance misuse were no longer living at home two years after referral, the research finds.

But in almost three-quarters of cases there was no specialist in substance misuse involved, researchers from Brunel University told a Baaf Adoption and Fostering conference.

Social workers were poorly prepared for dealing with substance misuse, having received “little or no” training while qualifying, professor Judith Harwin and Donald Forrester told delegates.

The survey of cases of all children going for long-term allocation in four London boroughs in one year finds alcohol to be associated with worse harm to children and poorer interagency working than drugs.

Harwin and Forrester said the research suggested the need for a new framework for working with parental substance misuse.

Baaf chief executive Felicity Collier said: “Social workers really need considerably more training on this issue and we need interagency strategies.”

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