Headlines: October 22nd, 2009

More than half of social workers believe that parents’ drinking puts children at risk of harm in most child protection cases. Figures released today by Alcohol Concern, also show the majority feel their social work qualification training was inadequate in terms of alcohol abuse in families.

The survey also shows that most social workers feel family problems related to parental alcohol misuse are increasing. Two thirds of social workers who responded said care proceedings happened later and took longer in alcohol affected families than in those where drugs were an issue and this meant children were staying longer in risk situations.

Social workers also believed the social acceptability of alcohol meant problems often remained hidden in families while most families affected by alcohol misuse were also dealing with issues of domestic abuse. Alcohol Concern says its findings support the call by the Chief Medical Officer for raised awareness of how drinking affects families as well as individual drinkers.

Alcohol Concern’s Chief Executive, Don Shenker, said: “The Government should listen to social workers who are ideally placed to report back. If they think such problems are increasing, this should send warning bells to Government to take alcohol misuse in families more seriously.” He said it was essential to bolster the capacity of social workers to identify children who were at risk from their parents’ drinking and Anne Delargy, Embrace Project Team Leader, added: “Social workers must be adequately trained to understand the relationship between alcohol and domestic abuse and how to support victims living with both issues.”