Alcohol and drug use and child abuse and neglect

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Alcohol and drug use and child abuse and neglect in the AIFS library catalogue

Australian foster carers' views and concerns regarding maternal drug use and the safety of breastmilk.

Blythe S, Peters K, Elcombe E, Burns E and Gribble K
Children v. 8 no. 4 2021: Article 284
Many infants are placed in care, often due to concerns over a parent's drug use. This article looks at the implications for breastfeeding. It presents findings from a national survey of 184 foster carers who had cared for infants, regarding the carers' views on ongoing contact with the biological mother to support breastfeeding, concerns about the safety of the milk, concerns about handling expressed breast milk, experience on providing expressed milk to an infant, and training regarding nutrition. The survey found that though the foster carers were generally open to the idea of maternal breastfeeding, the majority of respondents were concerned about the possibility of harmful substances in the milk, as well as the safety of handling expressed breast milk.

Child protection in the time of COVID-19

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021.
There are concerns the COVID-19 pandemic has increased children's risk of abuse - the government restrictions have increased families' stresses while also limiting interactions with professionals who could detect and report abuse. This report presents preliminary child protection data from March to September 2020, covering the first wave of COVID-19 restrictions in Australia and part of the second wave of restrictions in Victoria. It compares the data to that of 2019, and also looks at risk factors such as parents and children seeking support, unemployment and reliance on income support, financial and housing stress, working and schooling from home, family law parenting disputes, parental mental health and substance use, and domestic violence. The data shows that though risk factors for child abuse and neglect increased during COVID-19 - in particular financial hardship, housing stress and poor mental health - notifications to child protection services fell during the first wave, though they increased once restrictions eased. Public tip-offs about online child sexual exploitation material more than doubled during this period also.

Risk factors identified in prenatal child protection reports.

Meiksans J, Arney F, Flaherty R, Octoman O, Chong A, Ward F and Taylor C
Children and Youth Services Review v. 122 Mar 2021: Article 105905
This article looks at the characteristics of families reported to child protection during pregnancy, to help identify families who may benefit from early intervention. It reviews child protection case files from one jurisdiction, for a random sample of 131 unborn children deemed at risk. The review found that most families experienced three or more risk factors, in particular current or previous intimate partner violence or parental alcohol or drug use, mental health concerns, or criminal activity. Also, over one third of the parents had themselves been abused as children. In families with other children, more than 90% of these children had been the subject of a previous child protection report.

'Good enough' parenting : negotiating standards and stigma.

Valentine K, Smyth C and Newland J
International Journal of Drug Policy v. 68 Jun 2019: 117-123
This article explores how parents who use drugs understand safe and competent parenting. Interviews were conducted with 8 parents, as part of a broader project into the practices and norms that contribute to positive child outcomes among otherwise at risk families. Though these parents reported challenges from the illicit nature of the drug market and monitoring by child welfare agencies, and feelings of guilt, they also described a range of strategies they use to minimise risk of harm and rejection of negative stereotypes about risky parenting.

The prevalence of allegations of family violence on proceedings before the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Harman J
Family Law Review v. 7 no. 1 2017: 3-19
This article examines the prevalence of allegations of family violence from the perspective of their impact on the workload of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Based on a sample of 201 parenting cases from a 14 week period in 2015/16, it looks at the prevalence of family violence or child abuse allegations, past involvement with police or child welfare agencies, the prevalence of mental illness or substance abuse allegations, concurrence of allegations, legal representation, appointment of children's lawyers, delay to court, and comparison with allegations of family violence in the general community. The findings highlight the complexity of cases before the Federal Circuit Court and the demands they make on court resources.

The evaluation of the 'Protecting and Nurturing Children - Building Capacity, Building Bridges' Initiative

Gibson C, Francis H, McDougall S, Arney F, Grauwelman-Smith R and Parkinson S
Underdale, S.A. : Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia, 2015
The 'Protecting and Nurturing Children: Building Capacity Building Bridges (BCBB)' was a national workforce development initiative funded by the Australian Government under the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children. It was undertaken by the Australian Centre for Child Protection in partnership with twelve Communities for Children programs sites, and involved over 2000 practitioners from more than 250 organisations. The initiative aimed to transform the goals of the National Framework into action that made an impact within communities - through building practitioner capacity and strengthening collaboration between adult-focused and child and family focused services. In short, adult problems are the cause of more children entering the child protection system, and a different approach - combining support and collaboration - is desperately needed. This report outlines the formative evaluation of the initiative and its key learnings.

The nature and extent of child protection involvement among heroin-using mothers in treatment : high rates of reports, removals at birth and children in care.

Taplin S and Mattick R
Drug and Alcohol Review v. 34 no. 1 Jan 2015: 31-27
This article investigates the nature and extent of child protection involvement among women in treatment for substance use problems, drawing on a survey with 171 women attending an opioid treatment program in Sydney, New South Wales. The participants had 302 children between them under the age of 16 years, 99 of whom were in out-of-home care - nearly half of these children had been removed at the time of birth. The participants were also asked about the parenting-related interventions provided and their views of their own parenting.

Parenting support for mothers and fathers with a drug problem: issues and challenges for parents and healthcare professionals

Chandler A and Whittaker A
Edinburgh : Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, 2014.
This briefing paper presents findings from a study from Scotland into parenting support for mothers and fathers with a drug problem. The two year longitudinal qualitative study involved multiple interviews with 19 opioid-dependent parents and focus groups with 18 healthcare professionals. Parents were interviewed up to three times - during pregnancy and twice in the baby's first year - regarding a range of issues including preparation and support for parenthood; experiences of parenting and child care; parenting needs; family history; substance use and related problems; social circumstances; and involvement with services. The study revealed that both parents and professionals tended to equate parenting support with managing drug dependence, rather than focusing on the wider, more holistic factors known to impact on parenting and family life. The issue of child protection also overshadowed parenting support.

Child protection and cross-sector practice : an analysis of child death reviews to inform practice when multiple parental risk factors are present.

Frederico M, Jackson A and Dwyer J
Child Abuse Review v. 23 no. 2 Mar/Apr 2014: 104-115
Parental mental health problems, family violence, and substance abuse constitute a 'toxic trio' of risk factors in the child protection sector. However, there has been little research on the combined impact of these three risk factors. This article analyses 16 cases of child death review from Victoria to investigate the impact of these parental risk factors on child abuse and filicide, and how child protection services responded to the existence of these risks.

Supervised contact visits : results from a study of women in drug treatment with children in care.

Taplin S and Mattick R
Children and Youth Services Review v. 39 Apr 2014: 65-72
This article looks at child contact within a child protection context. Mothers in treatment for drug dependence in Sydney who had at least one child in out-of-home care were interviewed, regarding their circumstances, drug use and treatment, out of home care arrangements, child contact arrangements, and supervised contact.

Drug testing: ANCD position paper

Australian National Council on Drugs
Canberra ACT : Australian National Council on Drugs, 2013.
Drug testing is used in a variety of settings in Australia and overseas, with aims such as ensuring workers in safety-sensitive positions are not drug-impaired, screening particular populations in order to refer people who use drugs to treatment or other interventions, and supporting the decision-making processes of courts or state agencies. The Australian National Council on Drugs has issued this position paper to examine the costs and benefits of drug testing and drug testing programs and to consider whether and in what situations drug testing is acceptable, appropriate, or advisable. It discusses drug testing technologies and some of the ethical and legal issues, then looks at drug testing in the contexts of drug treatment programs, child protection, people receiving welfare benefits, schools, and workplaces. Whilst it is understandable why some might presume that drug testing is a useful strategy, the Council finds that drug testing is expensive, may have unintended adverse outcomes, and raises serious ethical and legal issues. There is also no evidence that drug testing effectively meets its aims and reduces risk at this stage.

Alcohol and child maltreatment in Australia through the windows of child protection and a national survey

Laslett A
"This thesis describes the adverse effects of others' drinking on children as viewed through two different windows. The first focuses on children in the Victorian child protection system. It examines how many, and in what ways children have been affected by the drinking of their carers as recorded by child protection workers between 2001 and 2005 in routine electronic databases. In the second window, national survey data are used to estimate the prevalence of households where children have been affected by someone else's drinking in the last year, using questions that stem from key definitions of types of child maltreatment. This research: i) documents the extent of alcohol involvement in child protection cases in Victoria; ii) explores and defines risk factors for child protection outcomes, including the role of alcohol, comorbidities and socio-economic factors; iii) assesses the number of Australian households where children have been affected by someone else's drinking; and iv) compares the size and social location of alcohol-related harms to children in the child protection system and the general population."--Author abstract.

Working with vulnerable families : a partnership approach

Scott D and Arney F
Port Melbourne, Vic. : Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Written for both students and practitioners, this book provides an introduction to family-centred practice in Australia. Chapters include: Working within and between organisations, by Dorothy Scott; Family centred practice in early childhood settings, by Dorothy Scott; Including fathers in work with vulnerable families, by Richard Fletcher; Parenting in a new culture: working with refugee families, by Kerry Lewig, Fiona Arney, Mary Salveron, Maria Barredo; Working with Aboriginal families, by Gary Robinson and Sarah Mares; Family decision-making approaches for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, by Fiona Arney, Alwin Chong, Kate McGuinness; The relationship between family support workers and families where child neglect is a concern, by Elizabeth Reimer; Working with parents with substance misuse problems, by Sharon Dawe and Paul Harnett; Children in the midst of family and domestic violence, by Cathy Humphreys and Menka Tsantefski; Attachment theory: from concept to care, by Sara McLean; Understanding the journey of parents whose children are in out-of-home care, by Mary Salveron and Fiona Arney; and Spreading and implementing promising approaches in child and family services, by Fiona Arney, Kerry Lewig, Robyn Mildon, Aron Shlonsky, Christine Gibson and Leah Bromfield.

Carer drinking and more serious child protection case outcomes.

Laslett A, Dietze P and Room R
British Journal of Social Work v. 43 no. 7 Oct 2013: 1384-1384
This article examines whether parental or carer alcohol abuse is related to an increased intensity of child protection response. Data from the records of 38,487 Victorian state Child Protection Services cases substantiated between 2001 and 2005 were studied for predictors of case outcomes, substantiations, protective interventions, and court orders; adjusting for other drug abuse and other socio-demographic factors.

Mothers in methadone treatment and their involvement with the child protection system : a replication and extension study.

Taplin S and Mattick R
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 37 no. 8 Aug 2013: 500-510
In 2006, a study by Grella, Hser, and Huang (2006) in California investigated the reasons why some drug-using mothers become involved with child protection services and others do not. This new study replicates and extends their findings in Australia. 171 mothers attending methadone treatment services in Sydney, New South Wales, were interviewed to identify what factors significantly increased the likelihood of child protection involvement, such as number of children, mental health, financial situation, family violence, history of childhood abuse, social supports, and duration of substance abuse. Of the participants, just over one-third were involved with child protection services at the time of interview - mostly with children in out-of-home care.

What about the children?: joint working between adult and children's services when parents or carers have mental ill health and/or drug and alcohol problems

Great Britain. Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (England), Great Britain. Care Quality Commission
Manchester : Ofsted, 2013.
"This thematic inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission explored how well adult mental health services and drug and alcohol services considered the impact on children when their parents or carers had mental ill health and/or drug and alcohol problems; and how effectively adult and children's services worked together to ensure that children affected by their parents' or carers' difficulties were supported and safe. The report draws on evidence from cases in nine local authorities and partner agencies and from the views of parents, carers, children, practitioners and managers."

A literature review to support the development of Australia's alcohol and other drug workforce development strategy

Flinders University. National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction
Adelaide SA : National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Flinders University, 2013
"The Strategy is being developed on behalf of the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs (IGCD) as part of the National Drug Strategy 2010-2015. The alcohol and other drugs (AOD) field has experienced substantial change over recent decades. Shifts have occurred in patterns of consumption and the types of substances consumed, and advances in knowledge have led to changes in clinical practice and prevention strategies. This includes issues relating to new synthetic drugs; greater awareness of child protection and family sensitive practice issues; greater awareness of co-existing mental health disorders and multiple morbidities; and greater emphasis on cost efficiency, clinical efficacy, improved outcomes and intersectoral collaboration. Workforce development in the AOD field aims to build the capacity of organisations and individuals to prevent and respond to AOD-related problems and to promote evidence-based practice. It goes beyond the provision of education and training to include issues such as recruitment and retention, workforce planning, professional and career development and worker wellbeing."--CFCA website.

Beyond violence: breaking cycles of domestic abuse

Farmer E and Callan S
London : Centre for Social Justice, 2012.
This report looks at the root causes of the problem of domestic abuse and provides solutions for Great Britain that are grounded in evidence rather than ideology. While power, control and patriarchy are explanatory factors in many contexts of domestic abuse, there are many others that are also significant, including poverty, substance misuse, psychological vulnerabilities rooted in people's past experiences and the dynamics that play out between two people in a relationship. Policies proposals include preventing ongoing and repeated victimisation, a better paradigm shift leading to practical changes in a how refuges support victims, reform of community perpetrator programmes, treatment for perpetrators embedded in substance misuse services, a new crime of coercive control, restorative justice approaches, proactive systems to identify and respond to children who are living or have lived with domestic abuse, programmes that foster secure relationships between parents and children where there has been domestic abuse, and universally available therapeutic provision for children in schools.

Alcohol's involvement in recurrent child abuse and neglect cases.

Laslett A, Room R, Dietze P and Ferris J
Addiction v. 107 no. 10 Oct 2012: 1786-1793
This article investigates the role of parental alcohol abuse in child protection cases. It presents findings from a review of cases from 2001-2005 from child protection services in Victoria, regarding recurrence, level of child protection intervention, child age and gender, and carer alcohol abuse, drug abuse, mental illness, and own experience of child abuse. The review found that carer alcohol was significantly associated with repeat incidents, with similar rates to that of drug abuse.

Social demography of alcohol-related harm to children in Australia.

Laslett A, Ferris J, Dietze P and Room R
Addiction v. 107 no. 6 Jun 2012: 1082-1089
This article investigates the prevalence of alcohol-related harms to children in Australia in the general population. It presents findings from a survey of 1,142 adults who lived with or who had care of children, regarding whether these children had been negatively affected because of others' drinking in the past year, such as by being left unsupervised, left in an unsafe situation, verbally abused, physically hurt, or exposed to serious family violence. The findings indicate that over one fifth of respondents knew of alcohol-related harms to children, most commonly verbal abuse, and more often in single parent households.

Analyses of parents' problems in clinicians' assessments for the Children's Court of Victoria on child protection matters

Suomi A
"This research focused on analyses of expert clinicians' assessments for child protection matters referred to the Children's Court Clinic by the Children's Court of Victoria in 2006-2007. Major aims were to examine the occurrence and co-occurrence of three forms of common parent problems [domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health problems]; to analyse their association with clinicians' identification of child-related issues and assessment issues and recommendations for placement decisions; and to examine the relationship between clinicians' recommendations and subsequent court decisions about protection orders and the placement of children. The data were clinicians' reports to the court that were analysed using content analytic techniques. The analyses focused on 138 families involving 250 children referred to the clinic by the court for expert psychosocial assessment."--Author abstract.

Listening to troubled families

Casey L
London : Dept. for Communities and Local Government, 2012.
The report is intended as a starting point to gain a deeper understanding about the characteristics, experiences, and commonalities of troubled families in Great Britain. The author, the head of the Troubled Families Programme, interviewed 16 troubled families for this report, describing lives affected by abuse and dysfunctional relationships, mental illness and drugs, anti-social behaviour, and the intergenerational transmission of family troubles.

A study of family drug treatment courts in the United States and the United Kingdom: giving parents and children the best chance of reunification

Levine G
Acton, A.C.T. : Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia, 2012
This report investigates whether Family Drug Treatment Courts form a suitable and effective approach for addressing parental substance abuse in Victoria. In particular, it evaluates whether such courts provide a good model for helping parent rehabilitation and family reunification. The report presents the findings and recommendations of a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, through which the author visited Family Drug Treatment Court services in the United States and United Kingdom to consider their applicability for Victoria.

Connecting services: learning from child death inquiries when the co-existing parental characteristics of family violence, substance misuse and mental illness place children at risk

Victoria. Office of the Child Safety Commissioner, Victorian Child Death Review Committee, La Trobe University
Melbourne, Vic. : Office of the Child Safety Commissioner, 2012.
This report reviews Victorian child protection service responses to cases of multiple parental risk factors. It presents an analysis of 41 child death inquiries from 2004-11 in which the three parental risk factors of family violence, substance misuse, and mental illness were present, in order to identify opportunities for service improvement, in particular in improved interagency collaboration.

Families with multiple and complex needs: best interests case practice model : specialist practice resource

Bromfield L, Sutherland K and Parker R
Melbourne : Dept of Human Services, c2012.
This resource, for child protection and family services in Victoria, provides guidance for working with families facing numerous, chronic and inter-related problems. Part 1 is an introduction to the issues, including the development of multiple needs, the impact on parenting, and Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families. Part 2 is a practice tool on strategies for working with families experiencing multiple and complex needs. It discusses adopting a child-focused and family-centred approach, information gathering, engaging parents, undertaking a comprehensive family assessment, risk assessment, assessing parenting capacity, planning an intervention, undertaking interventions, and reviewing outcomes. The resource also includes appendices on the impact of certain parental issues on parenting, including substance use, intimate partner violence, mental illness, learning difficulties, and acquired brain injury.

Child wellbeing and protection concerns and the response of the alcohol and other drugs sector in Australia.

Battams S and Roche A
Advances in Mental Health v. 10 no. 1 Special issue on promoting youth mental health through early intervention 9781921729300 Oct 2011: 62-71
There are growing concerns regarding child wellbeing and protection across many countries. This paper assesses the legitimacy of these concerns in the Australian context and explores the relationship between alcohol and other drugs (AOD) use by parents and child wellbeing and protection. The paper considers evidence on the relationship between AOD use by parents and child wellbeing and protection. It examines the potential role of the AOD sector in child welfare outcomes, in the context of social determinants of health. To date, relatively little attention has been directed towards the relationship between AOD misuse and both child and adolescent wellbeing and protection matters, although the AOD sector has an important preventative role for child and adolescent wellbeing and protection. Intersectoral and Family Sensitive Policy and Practices within AOD services are important to this 'secondary prevention' role, however there are many barriers to the achievement of such strategies. Developments in Family Sensitive Policy and Practice must be intersectoral and will require additional resources. Cross-sectoral workforce development and retention strategies, which include training in child development theories and approaches in the AOD sector, and addressing stigmatizing attitudes towards parenting AOD clients across sectors, are also necessary.

Family drug courts : an option for the Australian child protection system.

Taplin S and Mattick R
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 28 Autumn 2011: 13-22
This article discusses the association between parental substance misuse and child maltreatment, and interventions to help these families stay together. These include drug treatment services combined with family-based interventions, problem-solving courts, and the Family Drug Court model, based on the Arizona Family Drug Court.

Child abuse : pathways to the juvenile justice system.

Tomison A
Young people, risk and resilience : the challenges of alcohol, drugs and violence conference : RACV Club, Melbourne, 07 March 2011 - 08 March 2011. Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2011
This plenary keynote address discusses the impact of child abuse or parental drug abuse on later juvenile offending. The presenter looks at the size of the child abuse problem in Australia, the association of child abuse with other social and family problems, pathways from child maltreatment to juvenile offending, intergenerational transmission of alcohol problems, modeling/social learning, alcohol abuse as a coping mechanism in survivors of child abuse, and prevention issues.

Child protection and mothers in substance abuse treatment

Taplin S and Mattick R
Sydney : National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, 2011.
This report examines parenting issues and child protection involvement among women with a history of illicit drug use in Australia. It presents findings from the Child Protection and Mothers in Substance Abuse Treatment study, a three-year study funded by NSW Community Services and the University of New South Wales. The study draws on interviews with 171 women attending opioid treatment clinics across Sydney, New South Wales, as well as drug treatment and child protection records as permitted. Just over one-third of the women were involved with child protection services at the time of interview, with one-third of their children in out of home care. The study examined what factors were associated with child protection involvement, including number of children, use of psychiatric medication, support from own parents, and socioeconomic disadvantage, as well as parenting issues and child behaviour problems. The report examines the findings, and notes the implications for policy and practice. Of particular interest was the finding that having greater social support, particularly from parents, significantly reduced the likelihood of being involved with the child protection system.

Characteristics of non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal children and families with substantiated child maltreatment : a population-based study.

O'Donnell M, Nassar N, Leonard H, Jacoby P, Mathews R, Patterson Y and Stanley F
International Journal of Epidemiology v. 39 no. 3 Jun 2010: 921-928
This article investigated what child and parental factors increase the risk of child abuse. Using health and child protection data from Western Australia for children born between 1990-2005, the study examined child and parental factors including child disability, parental age, socio-economic status, parental mental health, substance use and assault-related hospital admissions, with separate analyses for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.
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