Local authorities have been invited to bid for funding to improve support services for children of alcohol dependent parents and dependent drinkers.
The Department for Health and Social Care and the Department for Work and Pensions have committed £4.5m of joint funding for up to eight local authorities which will be managed by Public Health England. Local authorities can now bid for funding
Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive at PHE said: “There are about 200,000 children living with an alcohol dependent parent in England, always with consequences for their childhood and sometimes devastating.
“This new fund is an opportunity for local services to get help faster and more effectively to the most vulnerable children and parents and we hope to receive a range of creative applications,” he added.
A report commissioned by the All Party Parliamentary Group of Children of Alcoholics found that parental alcohol misuse was implicated in 37% of cases involving the death or serious injury of a child through neglect or abuse in England between 2011 and 2014.
The impact of parental alcohol dependency on the lives of children can be significant and long lasting. Alcohol can be a major factor in causing parental conflict, which can lead to a range of poor outcomes for children including damaging their education, employment and health. A Department for Education’s census showed that in 2016 to 2017 18% of children ‘in need’ were affected by alcohol.
PHE has published a toolkit to support LAs in planning services. The toolkit includes data and advice on how best to meet the needs of children growing up in these situations and those of their parents and carers.
PHE wants to see bids which are robust joint plans that are designed to lead to identifying more children and parents. Bids should include how local authorities will:
- identify more children of alcohol dependent parents and how they can increase support
- increase the number of alcohol dependent parents receiving and completing treatment, and to provide support that reduces parental conflict
- reduce the number of ‘looked after children’ of alcohol dependent parents being taken back into care, and/or reducing the time spent on the child protection register
Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: “For far too long, children of alcoholics have had to suffer in silence, too embarrassed and afraid to seek help or know who to turn to.
“We know being the child of an alcoholic can lead to a lifetime of problems, from mental health issues to increased risk of alcohol abuse.
“Local authorities have the local knowledge and power to make a huge difference – that’s why it’s right we offer this lifeline to thousands of silent sufferers,” he added.
PHE is expecting to fund up to 8 areas and the application phase for the innovation fund runs until 17 July. The total available fund is up to £4.5 million over three years.
Those interested in the fund should submit an application form to InnovationFund@phe.gov.uk.