Innovations in the assessment and treatment of families with parental substance misuse: Implications for child protection

Children living in families with parental substance misuse face considerable adversity and are at high risk of poor outcomes that include emotional and behavioural problems, poor school attainment and early use of alcohol and drugs. Further, parental substance misuse is consistently identified as a key risk factor for involvement in the child protection system. However, parental substance misuse does not occur in isolation, with problems such as poor mental health, intergenerational disadvantage and trauma, and concurrent social and financial disadvantage typically present. These families are complex, the problems are often chronic in nature and engagement in the child protection system is often recurrent or for extended periods of time.

The issues surrounding the assessment and the provision of support for families are equally as complex as the families themselves. Simple approaches targeting single domains of family functioning in isolation (such as parenting skills) are unlikely to improve family functioning and divert children from the child protection system. Creative and innovative approaches drawing from models of child development and adult psychopathology are needed to inform the development of effective assessment processes and family support approaches. Importantly, the identification and tailoring of interventions needs to extend well beyond the traditional approach of targeting families once they have been flagged within the child protection system.

This Special Issue invites contributions that extend and challenge the field to consider innovative ways of assessing and supporting complex families with parental substance abuse. We are interested in receiving high quality conceptual and empirical papers that extend current knowledge with clear practice and policy implications. Finally, we encourage contributions that consider innovative access points and approaches to identification of high risk children and their families.

Contact the Guest Editors

If you would like to discuss a possible contribution, please contact one of the following editors for this Special Issue:

  • Professor Sharon Dawe, School of Psychology & Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Australia:
  • Professor Thomas McMahon, Departments of Psychiatry and Child Study, Yale University School of Medicine, USA:

Important dates

  • Deadline for submission of Abstracts: 14 May 2017, to:
  • Evaluation and notification on Abstracts: 2 June 2017
  • Submission of full Papers: 8 September 2017, at:
  • Final acceptance notification: 1 June 2018

Papers will be subject to Child Abuse Review’s normal peer review procedures

Please refer to the author guidelines before submitting abstracts and full papers