Alcoholic Drinks and Drugs: Misuse

This was something that was picked up on They work for you the website that ‘keeps tabs on the UK Parliament’s and Assemblies’ for us pertaining to alcoholic drinks and drugs misuse and children.

The question was: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate she has made of the number of children in (a) care and (b) need who have parents who misuse alcohol or drugs

And the reply:

Edward Timpson (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education; Crewe and Nantwich, Conservative)

The Department collects information on the number of children looked after by local authorities in England via the SSDA903 return. However data on the number of children looked after who have parents who misuse alcohol or drugs is not collected.

Figures are provided in the table below for assessments of children in need:

Number of assessments of children referred to social care where alcohol or drug misuse by the parent or carer was identified as a factor, year ending 31 March 2014

Factor identified1 At initial assessments2 At continuous assessments2
Number Percentage Number Percentage
Total assessments completed at which factors were reported 206,000 . 145,700 .
Of which reported:
Alcohol misuse: Concerns about alcohol misuse by the parent/carer 18,800 9.1 16,100 11.1
Drug misuse: Concerns about alcohol misuse by the parent/carer 15,300 7.4 13,800 9.5

Source: Children in Need census

1. This data was reported for the first time in 2013/14 for initial and continuous assessments completed in the year. A child may have more than one assessment in the year and an assessment may have more than one factor recorded.

2. An initial assessment is a brief assessment and a continuous assessment is a more in depth assessment of a child’s needs where the child has been referred to children’s social care services with a request that services be provided.

This was the first year this data item was collected. Data was provided by around two thirds of local authorities so this information should be treated with caution.

Factor information is published within table A6 of the ‘Characteristics of children in need: 2013 to 2014’ statistical first release:

A ‘child in need’ is one that has been referred to and assessed by Social Care as requiring additional support for their well-being.  This is below the level of ‘Child Protection’ where the child is judged to be at risk of significant harm  and if you would like to read more the NSPCC have excellent resources here.

So the data.  It reflects 2/3rds of local authorities so we could extrapolate out and say that the total number could be 300,000 initial assessments and 225,000 continuous assessments.

In 9% of initial assessments and 11% of continuous assessments booze is a factor.  2% try to keep it  hidden – otherwise why is there an increase between the two assessments?

There are 12.9 million children under the age of 16 within the UK so this represents  2.3% of the population – granted a small percentage but for 10% of them alcohol is a factor in social care assessments.  And it is higher than those impacted by drugs by 2%.  That’s still 206,000 children too many whose lives are blighted by alcohol.

Where am I going with this?  I’m not really sure.  This data does support my professional experience and I would like to think that the govt would support reform to policy and legislation if children were going to benefit.  Who wouldn’t want that? ……