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Funding announced to help children of alcohol dependant parents

Councils warn that the funding does not go far enough

Published on 23rd April 2018

The government has announced plans to help the estimated 200,000 children in England who are living with alcohol-dependent parents.

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled a package of measures to help children access support and advice, backed by £6m funding from the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The consequences of alcohol abuse are devastating for those in the grip of an addiction–but for too long, the children of alcoholic parents have been the silent victims. This is not right, nor fair.

“These measures will ensure thousands of children affected by their parent’s alcohol dependency have access to the support they need and deserve.

“Some things matter much more than politics, and I have been moved by my Labour counterpart Jon Ashworth’s bravery in speaking out so honestly about life as the child of an alcoholic. I pay tribute to him and MPs with similar experiences across the House who have campaigned so tenaciously to turn their personal heartache into a lifeline for children in similar circumstances today,” he added.

The measures include:

  • fast access to support and mental health services for children and their families where there is a dependent drinker
  • quicker identification of at-risk children, including those undertaking inappropriate care responsibilities
  • the provision of outreach programmes to get more parents successfully through addiction treatment
  • early intervention programmes to reduce the numbers of children needing to go into care

Local authorities will be invited to bid for funding by coming up with innovative solutions based on local need, with priority given to areas where more children are affected. Public Health England will be responsible for working with the funded areas to monitor progress.

Steve Brine MP has been appointed as the dedicated minister with specific responsibility for children with alcohol-dependent parents and will lead this work in addition to his role as public health minister.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “This funding is good news as it will help some councils improve outcomes for children whose parents are dependent on alcohol by improving access to the support they need and deserve.

“However, with councils facing a £2 billion funding gap for children’s services by 2020, we urge government to provide sufficient funding to enable councils to provide all children with the support they need, when they need it. 

“A joined-up strategy is needed across government for all children and young people, to include all vulnerable groups. This needs to inform the government’s green paper on children’s mental health to deliver the long-term reform needed to ensure the system speeds up the provision of support to children asking for help when they need it.

“We are also calling on the government to reverse reductions to the public health grant to councils, which will help local authorities to do more to tackle drug and alcohol misuse,” she added.

Stuart Gallimore, ADCS President, said: “In addition to domestic abuse and mental health problems, parental substance misuse continues to be a growing reason for the involvement of children’s social care in safeguarding children. Given the scale of this issue the funding announced today that local authorities are invited to bid for will only help some children in some areas get the help and support that they need. More focus and, crucially, investment is needed to support all children affected by these issues.

“Children’s services are facing a funding gap of at least £2bn by 2020 in the face of increased demand for our services. This is seriously hampering our ability to improve outcomes for children and their families as local authorities find themselves having to cut back on vital early help and preventative services that we know make a huge difference to children and families’ lives, by supporting them at the earliest opportunity, before they reach crisis point. Without adequate and sustainable funding for children’s services, without prioritising and resourcing preventative services children and families will be much worse off,” he concluded.

 

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