Will my children be taken away if I access treatment services?
Almost certainly not! Social workers hate to take children from their families, and besides the evidence clearly shows that children do better with their families, even in difficult circumstances, than in care.

Are you sure?
Yes. Children are only removed from their families if there is a serious risk of harm to the child, or the parents are unwilling or unable to make changes to improve their circumstances and those of their children. It’s much rarer than people think.

Won’t admitting that I have a problem with alcohol or drugs make them think I can’t look after my children?
Actually the opposite is true. It is considered really positive that you are willing to address your problem. Of course people will want to make sure your kids are ok, but social services want to support families to stay together. That’s what they are for!

Are you sure about that?
Well if the children were at risk or suffering significant harm, the protective measures would have to be put in place.

What do you mean by protective measures?
That potentially covers a whole range of options, but for example it might mean someone from Social Services coming to your house on a regular basis for a while to help support the family.

 What else do Social Services do?
They will look at a whole range of options to support the parent (or parents) and the children while the person with the drink or drug problem receives the help they need to get better. Remember, their job is help you and your family to sort out your problems and stay together, not make things worse!

Can you give me some examples of how they might help me?
Of course. The help you are offered will depend on your circumstances, but they might refer you to a service that can provide you with some emotional support, or they could refer you to an organisation to help you if you had problems with debt. There are lots of ways to help you deal with the difficulties you face.

How could they help my children?
There are lots of ways they can help your children. For instance they might find day nurseries for your younger children to attend, or play services if they are older. If your children are older and having a difficult time, they might find a trained children’s counsellor or an introduction to a Young Carer’s Group for them to talk to in order to get some help and emotional support. If your family circumstances are really difficult they might be able to arrange for baby equipment, beds or bedding for your child.  Meeting any needs your children might have is really important to them.

What would happen to my children if I needed to go into detox or rehab?
That would depend on your family circumstances. Social services will work closely with you and your family members to help them look after your children while you are receiving treatment. They might help your partner or grandparents look after the children for instance. If you are a single parent, they might work with a close friend that you trust to take care of you children.

What would happen if I had no immediate family or close friends?
Social services would be able to arrange for your children to be cared for while you were in treatment. It would not be a problem. You would be able to meet the foster carers beforehand.

Would I be able to see my children while I was in rehab?
Probably not straight away, because it is important that you are able to concentrate on getting better and sorting out your problems, but otherwise normally, yes. Remember, Social Services are there to look after the well-being of children, and seeing their Mum or Dad is an important part of that.

Is there anything else I should know?
Social services are there to look after children who may be having a difficult time. They want to support families to stay together, and it can be surprising in how many different ways they can help. They are not the enemy.

Our thanks to RBKC for the use of content taken from the Invisible Elephant website