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New perinatal support service in Scotland to support families with substance abuse problems

A new service to support families affected by problematic substance misuse has been launched by Scotland’s largest children’s charity, Aberlour.

The new Intensive Perinatal Support Service is based in the Falkirk area and delivered in partnership with Falkirk Council, Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership, and CORRA Foundation. It aims to fill the gap in supporting new mothers and enabling babies to have the chance to have the best start to life.

Lesley James, Falkirk’s Senior Service Manager for Children’s Services said: “We do everything possible to help children remain with their birth families. For many parents living with adversity, they need intensive support to be the best parents they can be. This new service takes an innovative approach, working in partnership with the local authority to meet those needs. The service will link support from the Alcohol and Drug Partnership directly with intensive parenting support to ensure babies can safely remain with their birth family wherever possible.”

Parental substance use can impact on a child’s development during pregnancy and when the baby is born, according to research. Parental substance use was a risk factor for 50% of Falkirk children on the Child Protection Register (CPR), Falkrirk Council reported. Figures also showed that 81% of unborn babies remained on the register following their birth, signifying a need for extra help at the earliest stages of a child’s life.

Aberlour Children’s Charity consulted with various partners, including the Scottish Drug Forum (SDF) and families, to develop the service. Many mothers reported feeling intimidated by procedures and feared negative assumptions that they were not fit to be a parent due to their substance use. One parent said, “I felt judged at meetings… like I was a second-class citizen”. Other parents agreed that they felt they were left behind and treated differently from other parents.

The new Intensive Perinatal Support service aims to help families at the earliest stage to support parents on their road to recovery and reduce the risk of future problems for them and their children. The service will work in partnership with local children’s services, health and addiction recovery services, to ensure that the families receive holistic advice.

The Intensive Perinatal Support Service will become part of the existing Aberlour Early Years Outreach Service in Falkirk, which works with families of young children looking for support and advice on best promoting their child’s development.

Winnie Delaney, manager of the new Aberlour service, said: “We’re thrilled that the new service is going to reach more families in Falkirk. Keeping families together safely is at the forefront of everything we do. Welcoming a new baby is a very exciting time in a family’s life. It is filled with opportunities to have a fresh start. As we work closely with families and support agencies, we hope that parents can improve their health and wellbeing on their road to recovery. Our hope is for parents to be better equipped to provide a safe, loving and consistent family environment for their child.”

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