When parents and caregivers misuse alcohol and/or other drugs, children are often denied basic necessities such as food, water and shelter, and may lack adequate supervision and medical care.

Centacare’s Kids in Focus service works in partnership with families to increase parenting capacity, minimise harm caused by substance misuse, and create safe home environments.

Many parents have never known a nurturing, stable environment and often do not allow themselves to see the impact of their drug use on their children.

This can include a lack of play and educational opportunities, unrealistic expectations of the child – including the responsibility for caring for other siblings – developmental delays and mental health.

Parents and caregivers may be more susceptible to substance misuse if they have experienced intergenerational and complex trauma including mental health, family violence and homelessness.

“ It’s tough out there; some people have a really rough ride and their parenting capacity is challenged through their own experiences,’’ said Jan (pictured), a Family Worker with KIF.

“We look at the complexities that sit under the substance misuse to change their children’s inheritance map.

“Regardless of where a parent is at, my experience is parents want to be the best they can be. They love their kids but unfortunately life is such that things get in the way and drugs are one of them.’’

In 2020/2021, KIF supported 101 clients in 32 families. Statistics show:

  • More than 90 per cent of clients reduced their level of AOD misuse
  • 82 per cent of parents demonstrated an increased awareness of the impact of their substance use and the risk this poses to children
  • 90 per cent of children engaged with KIF experienced increased opportunities which have provided them with support to reach their life domains
  • 82 per cent of households improved family functioning

“KIF is unique in that it’s a parenting program with an AOD focus but without the stigma families often feel accessing an AOD service,’’ said Jenny Boyle, Acting Manager, Northern Family Support Programs.

“We can work with families for 18 to 24 months which gives us a real opportunity to forge strong relationships with parents.

“We role model what a good, positive relationship can look like for the families which they can take with them into future relationships.’’

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