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Good practice guidance for working with children and families affected by substance misuse: getting our priorities right

Not all families affected by substance misuse will experience difficulties. However, parental substance misuse may have significant and damaging consequences for children. These children are entitled to help, support and protection, within their own families wherever possible. Sometimes they will need agencies to take prompt action to secure their safety. Parents too will need strong support to tackle and overcome their problems and promote their children’s full potential.

The national drugs strategy calls for agencies to assess the needs of children of drug misusing parents, and provide services to safeguard their welfare. This document sets out national guidance for all relevant agencies to assist them to do so. This guidance has been drafted in consultation with people who work either with substance misusers or with children and young people, or both. The aim is to provide guidance for everyone who has an interest in the well-being of children and families. This includes staff in drug and alcohol services, children’s services and criminal justice agencies.

The guidance should be useful for social workers, medical and nursing staff in hospitals and the community, health visitors and other health professionals, teachers, housing staff, youth workers, psychologists, staff in voluntary organisations, Reporters, police, Procurators Fiscal and staff in prisons. The parents and families with whom they work, and their representatives, may also find the guidance useful in describing what to expect from services and agencies.

Scottish Executive