The Social Exclusion Task Force have recently published what they call the analysis and themes from the Families At Risk Review.
One of the areas they look at is drugs, where they say:
It is estimated that there are 250,000–350,000 children of problematic drug users* in the UK.94 2–3% of children under age 16 have at least one parent who misuses Class A drugs, although around half of these children do not live in their parent’s care.
Drug misuse can have significant impacts upon children. Maternal drug use during pregnancy carries significant health risks for the foetus. Parental problem drug use is associated with neglect, isolation, physical or emotional abuse, poverty, separation and exposure to criminal behaviour. Over the longer term there is an increased risk of emotional, cognitive, behavioural and other psychological problems, early substance misuse and offending behaviour and poor educational attainment.
In discussing the impact of alcohol they say:
Around 1.3 million children live with parents who misuse alcohol. Studies have found that the children of parents who misuse alcohol are at a higher risk of mental ill-health, behavioural problems, involvement with the police, as well as substance and alcohol misuse.
Parental alcohol misuse also raises the likelihood of having caring responsibilities at a young age and of poor educational attainment. Children with problem drinking parents are more likely to witness domestic violence and to experience parental relationship breakdown. Alcohol misuse has been identified as a factor in over 50% of all child protection cases.
They point out that just living in a rundown neighbourhood is a risk factor for school failure, and that:
Community disorganisation and neglect, the perception of easily available drugs and a lack of neighbourhood attachment are all risk factors that make young people more likely to turn to drugs or youth crime.
The report conculdes:
Against a backdrop of increasing prosperity and progress for the majority, a small minority
of families are still experiencing poor outcomes. Their complex problems provide significant challenges to public services if we are going to break intergenerational exclusion and close the gaps in achievement. This report has shown the impact of families is rarely neutral: they can sometimes be a great source of resilience and protection, but they can also pose grave risks…
There is scope to link up the progress being made through public service reform in the children’s and adults’ sectors to create a coherent system of support for the most vulnerable families. A system that is incentivised at all levels to prevent families deteriorating and support those already facing the most chronic exclusion. A system that reintegrates families, putting them back onto the road to success and enabling them to enjoy the improved outcomes that the rest of society is experiencing. We need a system that thinks family from Whitehall to the frontline.
Filed under: families