A soon to be published report from the APPG on FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) will show that a staggeringly high percentage of children in the care system are affected by FASD. In one local authority 75% of children aged 0-5 released for adoption were found to be affected by FASD. TACT – UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity, was the only social work organisation to present evidence to the APPG and emphasized the importance of raising awareness amongst social workers as well as health professionals about this complex and often misunderstood disorder.
The consequence of looked after children going into permanent placements with either a “missed diagnosis” or a “mis-diagnosis” could be dramatic and only with an increased awareness of FASD through training could social workers ensure that these issues were addressed. If FASD is not considered as a possibility, either now or in the future, bearing in mind that the neurological impact of alcohol does not usually present until children are at least 5 and maybe older, we will be placing children for permanence with unprepared carers. This is of particular concern considering the increase in special guardianship orders and kinship placements being made where the permanent carers will not necessarily have the same support and access to professional help as adopters and foster carers.