Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, has welcomed new plans announced today by Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt to better identify children at risk as a result of alcohol abuse in the home, backed by a £6million investment to provide rapid access to support and advice services.

As part of a pioneering joint project by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Work and Pensions, an estimated 200,000 children in England living with alcohol-dependent parents will benefit from a package of support measures that will include:

  • fast access to support and mental health services for children and their families where there is a dependent drinker
  • quicker identification of at-risk children, including those undertaking inappropriate care responsibilities
  • the provision of outreach programmes to get more parents successfully through addiction treatment
  • early intervention programmes to reduce the numbers of children needing to go into care

The £6million package of interventions will be made up of a £4.5million innovation fund for local authorities to develop plans that improve outcomes for children of alcohol-dependent parents, £1million to fund national capacity-building by non-governmental organisations, in addition to an already delivered investment of £500,000 to expand national helplines for children with alcoholic parents.

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

“The consequences of alcohol abuse are devastating for those in the grip of an addiction–but for too long, the children of alcoholic parents have been the silent victims. This is not right, nor fair.”

“These measures will ensure thousands of children affected by their parent’s alcohol dependency have access to the support they need and deserve.”

Commenting on the announcement, Robin said:

“Every child deserves the best start in life, and children of alcoholic parents are sadly often robbed of this. It is right that we do all that we can to protect children of alcoholic parents, who are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. I’ve met with representatives from local addiction support groups, mental health services, as well as foetal alcohol syndrome charities, and heard of the terrible and long-lasting damage that can be done to children this way.”

“This initiative has been the result of really positive cross-party work, with the Health Secretary speaking out in support of his Opposition counterpart Jon Ashworth who, among many other Members from across the House, has turned his personal heartache into a lifeline for children in similar circumstances today.”

“These plans will go a long way towards addressing this often hidden problem, and I will be encouraging Worcestershire County Council to place a bid to the fund in order to strengthen our local service provision in this area. This is, of course, an issue which sadly affects all parts of the country but I want to ensure that we can offer the highest level of support to those children suffering the effects of parental alcohol abuse in Worcester.”