NHS Health Scotland
a. Evidence for improved identification and assessment of children affected by parental alcohol use

NICE Public Health Guidance 004 recommendations:

  1. Use of existing screening and assessment tools to identify vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people aged under 25 who are misusing – or at risk of misusing – substances

  2. Work with parents or carers, education welfare services, children’s trusts, child and adolescent mental health services, school drug advisers or other specialists to provide support and referral for children and young people to other services based on a mutually agreed plan

Scottish policy note

Identification and assessment of those affected by parental substance misuse has been addressed over the past few years through the policy documents:

  • ‘Getting our Priorities Right: Good Practice Guidance for working with Children and Families affected by Substance Misuse’ (2003),
  • ‘Hidden Harm: Responding to the Needs of Children of Problem Drug Users’ (2003),
  • ‘Hidden Harm: Scottish Executive Response’ (2004) and
  • ‘Hidden Harm: Next Steps’ (2006).

In addition, government support is now being channelled through local authority ‘Getting It Right Learning Partnerships’, within which practitioners will test how to apply ‘Getting It Right for Every Child’ principles to addressing the needs of children affected by parental drug and/or alcohol misuse.

Moreover children affected by parental substance misuse have been specifically cited as a priority area in the alcohol policy framework; ‘Changing Scotland's Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action’ (2009) and also highlighted in the drugs strategy, ‘The Road to Recovery’ (2008). The alcohol framework commits to arranging a Scottish survey of the incidence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the drugs strategy outlines actions to improve identification, assessment, recording and planning, and information sharing; to build the capacity, availability and quality of support services; and to strengthen the consistency and effectiveness of immediate risk management. A Project Board has been convened to drive forward progress on this agenda, involving relevant Scottish Government and COSLA officials and third sector service delivery organisations and in addition drawing on the skills of individual experts in the sector.



Templeton, L., Zohhadi, S., Galvani, S., Velleman, R. 2006. "Looking Beyond Risk" Parental Substance Misuse: Scoping Study. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/07/05120121/0

NHS Health Scotland. 2007. Commentary on NICEPHG004 ‘Community based interventions to reduce substance misuse among vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people’ http://www.healthscotland.com/scotlands-health/evidence/NICE.aspx