New measures in family support and services are to be introduced for the children of alcoholic parents, the Government has announced.
The tools, which make up what has been dubbed a “lifeline” for hundreds of thousands young people, include speedy access to mental health services and funding to identify children at risk.
Also included will be increased support for families with a dependent drinker, and outreach programmes to support parents in addiction treatment.
Early intervention will be implemented in order to reduce the amount of children likely to be taken into care.
The children’s society has estimated there are 700,000 teenagers in the UK who are being “damaged” by alcoholic parents.
Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt said the work of MPs who had appealed to their personal experience of growing up with alcoholic parents had helped influence the policy push.
He said public health minister Steve Brine has been appointed the lead in work to help support children bearing the brunt of family alcoholism.
MP Liam Byrne – who chairs the all party group on children of alcoholics and who lost his father after a struggle with alcohol – has spoken frankly about feelings of shame and guilt associated with an alcoholic parents.
“This is a huge step forward for Britain’s innocent victims of booze,” he said, “the kids of parents who drink too much and end up scarred for life.”
The NSPCC says it receives one call every hour related to drug or alcohol abuse, and has seen an increase of 16% in children worried about this issue.
Children with an alcoholic parents are three times as likely to consider suicide, five times more likely to develop an eating disorder and twice as likely to have problems at school.
Living with alcoholic parents can also expose children to violence, neglect and long term insecurity.
A parliamentary report released in February found that one third of child deaths caused by injury and neglect were linked to parental drinking.
The plans include £6m in funding, from the department of health and social care and the department for work and pensions, and local authorities will be invited to bid for the funding based on local need.