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Building a picture of risk

You need to know what is happening to the child and their family, and the particular ways a child’s safety, belonging and wellbeing are affected by their parent’s alcohol and other drugs (AOD) use.

Once you have built a picture of what the child needs, you have to make sense of what it all means.

What you need to know What to ask yourself
About the child
  • How does this child need to be cared for?
  • What is their temperament and development?
  • What things are easy and more challenging in life for this child?
  • How is the child being hurt by their parent’s AOD use?
  • If things stay the same, what is the likely trajectory for the child?
  • What needs to be different to make things better and safer in the child’s life?
  • What things should stay the same in the child’s life?
  • What things do we need to build on in the child’s life?
About the parent and AOD use
  • How does AOD use affect the parent meeting each child’s needs?
  • What is the parent doing or not doing for the child because of their AOD use?
  • What places, people and AOD practices are making their child more at risk?
  • What have you learnt about AOD use in their life?
  • What is the parent’s perspective about risks to their child and what needs to happen about their AOD use?
  • Given the patterns of past and current use and the seriousness of episodes, what level of intervention and support is likely for healing and recovery?
About strengths, resources and acts of protection
  • What are the things that work well in the family?
  • What things does the parent do well?
  • Who is connected to the child and parents?
  • Who can help?
  • What acts of protection have you learnt about?
  • How do these things reduce risk or buffer the impacts for the child?


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