|Title:||Child and Adolescent Health and Well-Being: Addressing the Hidden Harm Caused by Parental Alcohol Misuse|
|Date:||Thursday 13th December 2012|
|Time:||10.15am – 4.30pm|
|Venue:||Broadway House, Westminster|
Register your place
|Jenny Clifton, Principal Policy Advisor, Office of the Children's Commissioner|
|Claire McCarthy, Director of Public Affairs, 4 Children|
|Jonathan Birdwell, Director of Citizens Programme, DEMOS|
|Nick Barton, Chief Executive, Action on Addiction|
Over the years alcohol policy in the UK has been predominantly shaped around the negative consequences of harmful drinking on an individual’s health and behaviour. However, due to its largely hidden nature, parental alcohol misuse has received little attention at a national or local level. Yet with around 2.5 million children in the UK living with hazardous drinkers with many more who have never come to the attention of services, and over 8 million people affected by a family member’s alcohol use, there is an urgent need to address the significant impact parental alcohol misuse has on children and childhood.
Resulting in an unstable and unsupportive household, neglect or even cruelty, parental alcohol misuse can cause a range of poor outcomes for a child, including: behavioural and long-term psychological problems, poor educational attainment, offending behaviour and the normalisation of substance misuse. Taking on a caring role within the family at an early age and suffering from guilt or isolation are also common in children of alcohol misusers. Although the impact of a parent’s drinking problem will vary from family to family, with the right support the harm to a child can be significantly reduced.
A recent report by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, ‘Silent Voices – Supporting Children and Young People Affected by Parental Alcohol Misuse’ (September 2012), stresses the need to listen and respond to the needs of children. Increased awareness of parental alcohol misuse and its impact amongst both the public and practitioners, alongside better training and resources for social workers are vital to ensure children and families receive support earlier. The report also makes clear that stronger partnership working and innovative commissioning are essential to delivering a joined-up, ‘whole family’ approach.
This special symposium offers an invaluable opportunity for social workers, education and health practitioners, third sector practitioners and key stakeholders to explore how best to address parental alcohol misuse and safeguard children against its harmful consequences.
|09:30||Registration and Morning Refreshments|
|10:15||Chair’s Welcome and Introduction|
Panel Session One:
‘Behind Closed Doors’ – Raising Awareness of Parental Alcohol Misuse and Strengthening Multi-Agency Responses
|11:15||Morning Coffee Break|
|11:30||Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel One|
Panel Session Two:
Reducing Harm, Building Resilience – Safeguarding Children from the Impact of Parental Alcohol Misuse
|14:15||Afternoon Coffee Break|
|14:30||Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel Two|
|15:30||Chair’s Summary and Closing Comments|
“The effects of parents' alcohol misuse on children may be hidden for years, while children try both to cope with the impact on them, and manage the consequences for their families… It does not concern only child protection professionals, though alcohol abuse can put children's safety at sustained, serious risk. The problem affects large numbers of children who never come to the notice of children's social care. They should not need to do so if there are services prepared to support them and their families at an earlier stage.
At a time of great changes in health service … it is essential to highlight the significance of this problem to ensure that services are adequately targeted at this high level of hidden harm.”
— Children's Commissioner for England, September 2012
“The impact of parental alcohol misuse is a problem which must be addressed by health professionals, those in social care, treatment services, and others in the child’s life. It requires a coordinated, collaborative approach. It is a problem with which parents must seek help, and one we all need to address.”
— ‘Silent Voices: Supporting Children and Young People Affected By Parental Alcohol Misuse’, September 2012