I am a child protection social worker practicing in the North West of England and a part-time PhD student based at Manchester Metropolitan University. I am part of Manchester Metropolitan’s Substance Use and Associated Behaviours research group. My research interests focus on the impact of parental substance misuse of children and families, particularly upon informal kinship carers (members of a child’s wider family and friend network who take on care of the children when they cannot safely remain in the parental home) and their families, as they receive significantly less statutory support than foster carers.
Kinship care and parental substance use: Developing responsive and effective services
Parental substance misuse is one of the major reasons children enter informal kinship care (care provided by a child’s extended network). Unlike foster carers, informal kinship carers have no statutory entitlement to support. Practice and policy discourses often falsely assume that kinship care to be unproblematic due to ‘natural’ family ties, however, in reality family dynamics, relationships and needs are complex and can be exacerbated by parental substance misuse. Despite this context’,’ the specific impact of parental substance misuse on kinship families and their support needs has not been explored. This poster presentation summarises my literature review around substance misuse and kinship care, examining the impact parental substance misuse can have on kinship families. It extends our understanding by collating the possible support needs these families may experience to guide practitioners and services supporting these families. I will discuss how the secrecy, stigma and stress associated with parental substance misuse impacts on kinship family dynamics and how the impact of parental substance misuse on children affects kinship care. Support needs are identified to be wide ranging, including financial, emotional and practical. Parental substance misuse exacerbates general kinship care support needs and creates its own support needs. Given the wide range of known support needs, for services to become more responsive and effective we need to specifically examine the link between kinship care in the context of parental substance misuse and the experience of support services using a systemic approach. This is the foundation for my thesis.