Summer University in Social Work 

Child Protection and Parental Substance Abuse

Prof. Robert Schilling — University of California Los Angeles, USA

Many studies conducted over decades have found a relationship between parental substance abuse and child maltreatment. Although causal pathways are difficult to determine, there is widespread agreement that parental substance use is an important factor to consider in assessing the safety of children. In statute and in regulations guiding child protection, drug abuse is often viewed as prima facie evidence of inadequate parenting. Substance use, particularly use of illicit substances, becomes a critical focus in all aspects of child protection: investigation, determination, intervention, and monitoring.
This presentation briefly discusses the justification for emphasizing substance abuse in child protection, ponders the values underpinning this attention to drug abuse, and examines policies and protocols for assessing and monitoring parental drug abuse, as well as practices for assuring compliance with mandated substance abuse treatment for adults whose parenting is found to be a danger to the safety of the child. The intent is to engage the audience in a critical discussion around the intersection of child protection and substance abuse.

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