Case reviews highlight that professionals often focus on the issues faced by parents with substances use problems without considering the impact on their children.
Problem substance use by a parent or carer is widely recognised as one of the factors that puts children more at risk of harm. The biggest risk posed to children is that parents, when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are unable to keep their child safe (including overlay through co-sleeping and accidents caused through lack of supervision).
This briefing looks at case reviews published between 2022 and 2023, where parental substance use problems were a key factor. Many of the learning and recommendations contained in the serious case reviews repeat lessons from numerous other reviews. Reviews emphasise that professionals need to conduct child-centred assessments and continue to reassess the potential risks that children face in households experiencing problems with substance use.
Published: December 2023
Our series of thematic briefings highlight the learning from case reviews conducted when a child dies, or is seriously harmed, as a result of abuse or neglect. Each briefing focuses on a different topic or learning for specific sectors, pulling together key risk factors and practice recommendations.
We work with local safeguarding partners to ensure that learning from case reviews can be accessed and shared at a local, regional and national level.
Find out how you can apply the lessons from case reviews and improve your practice to help protect children and young people.
Browse through our list of child safeguarding practice reviews, serious case reviews, significant case reviews and child practice reviews which were added to the National case review repository between 2019 and 2023.
Learn about how long-term problem use of drugs and/or alcohol by parents and carers can affect children and what support is available for parents in this situation.
Gain an insight into how trauma such as abuse and neglect can affect a child’s brain development and how to overcome adverse childhood experiences.