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Alcohol support

New mum and alcohol dependency

3 replies

KittyVonCatsworth · 11/06/2020 10:19

Posted in Relationships too but thought I'd get more practical advice here.
I don't want to give too much away here. Someone extremely close to us (me and DH) has recently had a baby. She was alcohol dependent but gave up for 3 months when pregnant. We thought they'd turned a corner, previously refusing all help for her addiction. She's now back drinking. We have the baby a few times a week to facilitate this but now her drinking is spilling over into the times the baby is with her.

Social services are involved in so much as they visit her, raise concerns on her missing health visitor appointments, offering parenting classes (she's not keen but will go to keep them off her case). What is the risk that the baby will be taken off her? I don't want the baby to end up in the system. The dad is around but recently got into trouble with the law and it's uncertain on his outcome.

How can we support her more? If the baby is removed from her care, do they consider family as temporary carers?

OP posts:
AFitOfTheVapours · 11/06/2020 13:01

What an awful situation! I’m really glad the baby has got you and social services involved. The poor thing needs all the outside help possible. I’m afraid I don’t have any insights to this but would it be worth calling social services and starting a conversation with them about your current involvement and your potential willingness in the future?
I think you’ll need to be ready to keep reporting incidents of neglect to SS if this carries on. I doubt they have the resources to keep as on top of it as they’d like.
Very best of luck

Threeflyingducks · 12/06/2020 08:57

@KittyVonCatsworth only a quick reply as I'm about to start work, I'm a children's social worker.
Impossible to say about the chances of baby being removed from mum without knowing the case, though you've obviously picked up that things aren't good. A big worry for alcohol dependent mums also is possibility of foetal alcohol syndrome or other damage in utereo, as the most damage is done in the first trimester IE can be before a mum knows they're pregnant and before they're able to reduce or give up alcohol. SS will need to understand that child's needs and whether mum can safely meet them given the alcohol dependency, and a lot of that depends on the support around her.

Put simply, if there is a prospect of a child being removed, consideration for care goes in the order of: birth parent (mum or dad) connected person (family or close friend) then fostering/adoption.

If it were to get to the point that they were looking at removal, things happen fast - the court requires decisions to be made so that children have the stability - care proceedings are expected to start and finish in 26 weeks, that's less than six months. So it's best to try and work with SS to ensure that you're on board before it gets to that point (not saying it necessarily will, but don't wait)

If I were you, I'd ask mums permission to be involved in the SS process. Eg can you attend meetings with her, so you can know what's going on and be available to support? And you can offer your details to them so that can have you as an emergency contact so that say, if one day mum is found to be drunk with the baby and dad's not contactable, that you're the person they ring and either ask to care for baby overnight or ask if mum and baby can stay with you or you to stay at there's with you taking responsibility for care of the baby, while things are looked at in more detail. You might hear this being referred to as being part of a safety plan.

As a SW when working with vulnerable children you start to get into the habit of having in mind 'who could take this child in if needed' eg grandparents, aunties, adult siblings etc. Parents aren't always forthcoming about who they've got around them, so make sure you're on the social workers radar. Good luck.

KittyVonCatsworth · 13/06/2020 17:48

@Threeflyingducks and @AFitOfTheVapours

Thank you both for responding, and apologies for the late response.

The baby is healthy, despite the mum drinking heavily for the first 6 months. She's reaching all her milestones ahead of predicted (smiling, grabbing, head control etc) and is a very happy, easy baby.

We've been to a couple of meetings with SW so they have an idea how hands on we are, but I think it's a great point about giving them our number just in case.

It's just frustrating, we're doing what we can. My DH drove 30 miles to pick them up for an early doctors appointment yesterday but the mum didn't answer the door or the phone. Of course we panicked but it turns out that the baby was up at the dad's and she'd gone on a bender. Too hungover to get up and go to the doctors. I know it's not right but I just want to swoop in and give this baby the right start in life, despite being the wrong side of 40. I'd prefer the mum does the right thing but we've tried for years to get her sober. That age old adage that they've got to want it. I thought a baby would be enough for her to want it.

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