Parental alcohol misuse in complex families: The implications for engagement

Andy Taylor, Paul Toner, Lorna Templeton, Richard Velleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impact of chronic parental alcohol misuse on both parenting and child welfare is being increasingly recognized, with such problems featuring in a significant proportion of families in which there are identified child-care concerns. There is a growing body of research which suggests that there are often particular difficulties in gaining access to such families, with effective engagement seen as central to appropriate intervention and to assessing childrens welfare in these situations. Establishing and sustaining engagement may be particularly problematic where these families experience a constellation of impacting pressures, of which alcohol and/or drug misuse is a central component. This article explores some of the challenges of reaching children and parents in such circumstances. Based on research that included a wider evaluation of a specialist service for children and families in which alcohol is a problem, a sample of families who dropped out of contact are presented and discussed. The authors suggest that particular responses to engaging such families are needed and identify the challenges in gaining access to children in such circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-864
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008


  • parental alcohol misuse
  • child welfare
  • engagement
  • multi-problem families

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