Drug and alcohol services have a good awareness of the needs of children living in families where parents have substance misuse problems

A new report from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission, What about the children?, looks at joint working between adult and children’s services when parents have mental health or drug and alcohol problems.

In some ways drug and alcohol services seem to be ahead of their mental health counterparts, in part driven by the hidden harm agenda set out by the ACMD in their report of the same name back in 2003.

As a result Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission found that:

Systems to identify children and consider their needs were comprehensive and used effectively in most drug and alcohol services.

In terms of working between adult and children’s services they believe that drug and alcohol services have

a good awareness of the needs of children and how drug misuse by parents and carers affected them. They worked closely with children’s social workers and contributed well to assessments of need and risks for children, although the impact on the children’s emotional needs was not always addressed.

Where the report suggests there is room for further work is in helping families to access early support and in particular for young carers.

The report makes a number of recommendations to drug and alcohol services.  These include:

  • ensuring that practitioners consistently challenge decisions by children’s social care to take no further action if in their judgement action is warranted, using escalation processes where necessary
  • review recording systems to ensure that children and young people who are undertaking inappropriate caring responsibilities for parents or siblings are identified, and that their needs are explicitly considered and referred for support when necessary
  • ensuring that adult assessments consider the need for early support for parents, carers and children and that action is taken to put this in place.
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