Parental substance misuse is a significant public health and children’s rights issue. In the UK, social workers frequently work with children and families affected by substance misuse. However, relatively little is known about this population, particularly at point of referral to social care. The paper reports on the largest known study of parental substance misuse as a feature of children’s social care work in England. This paper provides a cross-sectional profile of 299 children living with parental substance misuse and referred to children’s social care in one local authority in England. Data were collected from social work case files at the point of referral to social care about the child, family, the wider environment and parental substance misuse. The findings show that children affected by parental substance misuse frequently had other support needs relating to their wellbeing and mental health. Children were also likely to be experiencing other parental and environmental risk factors. The significant historical – and in some cases intergenerational – social care involvement for some families indicates potential issues with the capacity of services to meet needs. Recommendations for practice are discussed with a particular focus on the need for early, comprehensive support for children and families.
- SPS Children and Families Research Centre
- parental substance misuse
- Children’s social care
- case file data
- social work