Buttle UK yesterday published research into the experiences of children and informal kinship carers, and I found it a powerful and useful piece of work. One of the things that struck me was just how many kinship carers arrangements were as a result of drug or alcohol misuse.
They found that in 2 out of 3 cases (67%) drugs and/or alcohol played a part in the decision to remove children from their parent’s care.
The research includes the voice of carers and children, which brings home some of the desperate circumstances that lead to these decisions being made.
We know that kids in care are particularly vulnerable to all sorts of risks, including drug and alcohol misuse. Recently Simon has started talking to the Who Care’s Trust about involving some of the young people they’re working with in the London Youth Involvement Project, and of course the kinship care work we do gives us enormous insight into the difficulties these young people can have growing up.
This has become topical today because of a report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner in England which is looking at Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups, with a special focus on children in care. That report finds that use of drugs and alcohol occurs as part of the abuse in some, but not all instances.
However, a young woman who spoke to Newsnight last night gives a pretty dark picture of how alcohol and drugs can play a part in the lives of children in care:
When you’re younger and you’re in care, you go out and if people offer you alcohol and stuff you just go along with it really. You’re probably just gullible.
One time she took me to this guy’s house and we ended up drinking alcohol and she had some cannabis and we ended up doing that.
She was probably the only person that would stop out all night with me, so that’s why I went out with her probably.
via BBC News – Sex, drink and drugs: A teenager’s life in care.
Thought this was interesting:
Parental substance misuse in Scotland is a widespread and serious problem. Reported figures of the number of children and young people affected vary, with current best estimates showing that up to 60,000 children under 16 years old have a parent with a drug problem (Hidden Harm, 2003) and up to 65,000 children under the age of 16 have a parent with an alcohol problem (Scottish Government, 2009).
Interesting piece about parents with substance misuse problems and reducing the use of the care system for their children. Something to think about when it comes to kinship care?