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Date of publication: October 2014
Author: Joanna Manning, Jenny Clifton and Carolyn McDonald
The new findings state that children will not get the help they need unless there is a specific focus on the impact of alcohol misuse by parents.
The research project was carried out in partnership with Lifeline, and aimed to develop:
• an approach to discovering the needs of children affected by parental alcohol misuse at a local level
• a model for the mapping of children’s routes to help
• a model of good practice in local arrangements for supporting children and families
• a proposal for early intervention.
The research took place in three localities across England and was carried out with children and young people, alcohol misusing parents and professionals that work with them.
The report finds that local areas are committed to addressing alcohol misuse but that the focus on the effect on children of parental drinking still needs much work.
Some local services for adults with alcohol problems and staff in children's services may fail to adequately identify children's needs and assist them in getting help or protection. It also finds that local services fail to work together effectively to measure and address the impact on children of parental alcohol misuse.
The study identifies the steps service providers and co-ordinating bodies need to take, and includes a set of suggested ways forward based around the four initial study objectives: understanding prevalence, routes to help, best practice and early intervention.
Ways forward include the need to consistently share information and to develop joint approaches to commissioning. Those working with adults should also receive training to help them talk to parents who misuse alcohol about the impact their drinking may have on their children. And all those working with children and families need training to assist them in recognising the difficulties children may be experiencing so that they can get help.
Commenting on the report, Joanna Manning, National Lead on Substance Misuse for The Children's Society, said: "Children and young people are suffering the impact of their parents' drinking for a long time before it comes to the notice of the authorities - if at all. Even then, the routes to help and the services available are very ad hoc and vary across the country. Too many people are in denial about the scale of the problem and the level of harm caused. It's also the case that local authorities tend to focus on young people's own drinking without consideration that it might be learnt or normalised behaviour from their parents. Equally, not enough is being done to address and support parents who drink in order to reduce the impact upon children and families."
Contact details for the project team:
The Office of The Children’s Commissioner: Jenny Clifton Jenny.Clifton@childrenscommisioner.gsi.gov.uk
The Children’s Society: Joanna Manning Joanna.firstname.lastname@example.org
Lifeline: Anna Hemmings: email@example.com
Consultant: Carolyn McDonald: Carolyn1mcdonald@gmail.com