The literature I will be critically reviewing is an article entitled, Parental substance misuse and child care social work: findings from the first stage of a study of 100 families. It was written by Donald Forrester and Judith Harwin.

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A CRITICAL LITERATURE REVIEW ON PARENTAL SUBSTANCE MISUSE AND CHILD CARE SOCIAL WORK: FINDINGS FROM THE FIRST STAGE OF A STUDY OF 100 FAMILIES. BY DONALD FORRESTER AND JUDITH HARWIN, CHILD AND FAMILY SOCIAL WORK 2006, Vol. 11, pp325-335

The literature I will be critically reviewing is an article entitled, “Parental substance misuse and child care social work: findings from the first stage of a study of 100 families”.  It was written by Donald Forrester and Judith Harwin.  Donald Forrester was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Social Work at the time the article was published in January 2006. He has written a number of articles on the subject of Parental Substance Misuse (PSM) of which three are included in my 50 literature search.  The second author, Judith Harwin is a Professor of Social Work, Department of Health and Social Care at Brunel University in the UK at the time of publication.

One of the aims of this article is to address the lack of British research on the topic by  reporting on the first stage of a study of all cases allocated for long-term work in four London local authorities over one year. The study focused on cases in which there was alleged misuse of drugs and/or alcohol by parents.  The findings address some important questions that have received little coverage in British research so far. These include: what is the extent of parental substance misuse in social workers’ caseloads? What proportions involve drugs, alcohol or both? What sort of issues do social workers identify in working with parental substance misuse? How do social workers and substance misuse specialists work together on cases?  The study aimed to describe the extent and nature of PSM in child care social work cases and identify how social workers were assessing and intervening with the families.

This article highlighted on an issue I noticed when searching for the 50 text. It was clear from the onset that about 80% of the articles of each search result were American based Journals articles. The article also addresses issues that are of great concern to the social worker, government (policy makers) and the society as a whole. One of the main points that came out from the findings and is perhaps the most obvious: substance misuse is an extremely common issue within child care social work. One-third of families going for allocation involve substance misuse and they are disproportionately serious cases. The importance of PSM might be obvious to social workers in the field who are dealing with such issues on a daily basis, but it is not reflected in the article in general. Furthermore, the study also shows that it is simply not feasible for social workers or policy-makers to consider PSM as ‘somebody else’s problem’, or as an issue that specialists will be able to deal with.  Social workers are working with large numbers of serious cases involving substance misuse and it is rare for there to be a specialist professional involved.

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Another area that the article gave cause for concern was that there appeared to be low levels of referrals from certain professional groups.  Recent guidance has emphasized the importance of a strong inter-agency framework in response to PSM (Local Government Drugs Forum 1999; Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs 2003), yet the research suggests that concerns are often either not being identified or not being referred. The absence of referrals from health visitors and general practioners suggests that substance misuse issues are not being identified and /or referred by community health professionals.  The study did not comment on the ...

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A good literature review of a study looking a parental substance misuse and child care social work. The writing style was generally good, allowing the reader the easily follow the key points drawn out from the article. It was good to see that the writer identified the authors