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£6m fund for children living with alcohol-dependent parents

Some 200,000 children are estimated to need help and support

Mark Gould

Monday, 23 April 2018

A new £6m fund has been set up to help an estimated 200,000 children in England living with alcohol-dependent parents. The cash will help finance a range of measures to help identify at-risk children more quickly and provide them with rapid access to support and advice.

And Public Health minister Steve Brine has been given specific responsibility for children with alcohol-dependent parents.

The £6 million in joint funding comes from the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Work and Pensions.

The measures include fast access to support and mental health services for children and their families where there is a dependent drinker, and quicker identification of at-risk children, including those undertaking inappropriate care responsibilities.

Outreach programmes will also be set up to get more parents successfully through addiction treatment and early intervention programmes hope to reduce the number of children needing to go into care.

Local authorities will be invited to bid for funding by coming up with innovative solutions based on local need, with priority given to areas where more children are affected. Public Health England will be responsible for working with the funded areas to monitor progress.

The package of interventions, totalling up to £6 million, includes:

  • a £4.5 million innovation fund for local authorities to develop plans that improve outcomes for children of alcohol-dependent parents
  • £1 million to fund national capacity building by non-governmental organisations.
The new funding follows government investment last year 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.

"Some things matter much more than politics, and I have been moved by my Labour counterpart Jon Ashworth’s bravery in speaking out so honestly about life as the child of an alcoholic. I pay tribute to him and MPs with similar experiences across the House who have campaigned so tenaciously to turn their personal heartache into a lifeline for children in similar circumstances today."

The move has won praise from Labour MP Liam Byrne, who also lost his father to alcoholism, and chairs the all-party group on children of alcoholics.

He said: "This is a huge step forward for Britain's innocent victims of booze; the kids of parents who drink too much and end up scarred for life."

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