Swept under the carpet front coverDespite the serious effects of parents' alcohol misuse on their children, and the high prevelance of this issue in child protection cases, there are significant gaps that need to be addressed.

Swept under the carpet makes recommendations on actions needed to support these children and their families, and presents alarming statistics on parental substance misuse.

This report was launched at an event hosted by Baroness Hayter, Chair of the APPG on Alcohol Misuse, in the House of Lords in October 2010. Anne Milton, Tim Loughton and Iain Wright - the minister for public health, the minister for children and families, and the shadow minister for education - spoke in support of the report.

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The report's key recommendations

  1. Training for social workers: The government should ensure that parental substance misuse and related domestic abuse becomes a mandatory part of all social work degree courses and launch a rolling education programme for those already qualified.
  2. Joint working between adult and children services: The government should ensure that parental alcohol misuse and alcohol-related domestic abuse are addressed within local commissioning arrangements for both adults and children's services and that partnership working is made a condition for funding.
  3. Resources and information for professionals, children and parents: The government should commission a resource for professionals to use with children affected by parental substance misuse and support the delivery at local level of information for parents on the risk of heavy drinking to children.  
  4. National inquiry: The government should launch a national inquiry into the impact of parental alcohol misuse on children and the cost implications for society.

Key statistics

Important statistics reported in Swept under the carpet include:
  • More than 100 children, including children as young as five, contact ChildLine every week with worries about a parent's drinking or drug use.
  • There is evidence of parental substance misuse in 57% of serious case reviews (of serious or fatal child abuse). Since there is currently no routine screening by children and families services for parental alcohol misuse, this is likely to be an underestimate.
  • In a study of four London boroughs, almost two-thirds (62%) of all children subject to care proceedings had parents who misused substances.
  • Alcohol plays a part in 25-33% of known cases of child abuse.
  • In a study of young offending cases where the young person was also misusing alcohol, 78% had a history of parental alcohol abuse or domestic abuse within the family.
  • In a survey of 250 recently qualified social workers, one-third reported receiving no training on substance misuse on their training course whilst half of all respondents had received half a day or less.

About the public survey

We commissioned a survey of 1000 members of the public to contribute to the report and explore attitudes around parental alcohol misuse.

Findings from the survey include:

  • 8 out of 10 adults agree that heavy drinking among parents is a serious problem for children in the UK
  • 87% of people agree that heavy drinking by a parent has a negative effect on children and families

Survey results are available.

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