A new initiative to improve the safety and welfare of children with parents who misuse alcohol or drugs has been developed by the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) at Flinders University.
For Kids’ Sake, A Family Sensitive Policy and Practice Toolkit, which aims to minimise cases of child abuse or neglect by increasing collaboration between child and adult service agencies, will be launched on Thursday by South Australian Health Minister John Hill.
NCETA Director, Professor Ann Roche said For Kids’ Sake would help build a bridge between the alcohol and other drugs (AOD) treatment and child protection sectors to improve cooperation and collaboration.
“The treatment of AOD abuse has changed over 50 years as the nature of the client has changed but the needs of the client’s children have never really been on the radar,” Professor Roche said.
“Research shows that parental alcohol and drug misuse is an important factor in the notification of child abuse and neglect, with the number of children in out-of-home care doubling in Australia in the past decade,” she said.
“The goal is to broaden child-focused services to be more parent sensitive and to expand specialist adult-focused services to be more child sensitive.
“This should not only make it easier for the client to get into or stay in treatment, it should also help prevent the cycle of intergenerational AOD abuse that vulnerable children tend to fall into.”
For Kids’ Sake comprises a workforce development resource; Taking First Steps, a survey report of AOD workers; a list of other resources; examples of Family Sensitive Policy and Practice already employed by some services; a workplace checklist; and a CD-ROM with electronic versions of these and additional materials.
“The toolkit contains a comprehensive list of ideas and practical suggestions that organisations can adopt to be more child and family sensitive,” Professor Roche said.
“We hope this issue will be included in some of the standard training programs in the sectors and will form the basis of a conversation between the sectors to enhance development of a common language, understanding and mechanisms for case management.
“We want to raise awareness that attending to the needs of AOD clients as parents is good for their children and good for them.”