Alcohol Concern and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers have called for concerted action from government, substance misuse and children’s services to support children of problem drinkers.
In a report last week, the charities said children whose parents misused alcohol numbered around one million, but were neglected by services and policy despite suffering significant emotional problems and difficulties at school, and sometimes being forced into caring roles. It also said there was a strong association between alcohol misuse and violence in the home.
The report said the Every Child Matters agenda had overlooked the group, while the Hidden Harm agenda – designed to tackle the family impact of substance misuse – primarily tackled parental drug misuse. Meanwhile alcohol policy, the report claimed, had focused on drinkers rather than their families.
Alcohol Concern and the Princess Royal Trust called for a national alcohol and families strategy, backed by a new public service agreement target to increase the health and wellbeing of children affected by parental alcohol misuse. The report also said that every local safeguarding children board should identify an “alcohol champion” to lead locally on family alcohol misuse services.
It said alcohol and children’s services required joint protocols to ensure common assessment and care planning systems, and that alcohol services still needed to support adults in their parenting role even when a child protection concern had been identified.
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Princess Royal Trust for Carers