Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

When Drug Addicts Have Children: Reorienting Child Welfare's Response

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

When Drug Addicts Have Children: Reorienting Child Welfare's Response

Article excerpt

BESHAROV, Douglas J., ed., WHEN DRUG ADDICTS HAVE CHILDREN: Reorienting Child Welfare 's Response. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America/American Enterprise Institute, 1994, 271 pp., $26.95 softcover. Reviewed by: MARY JANE S. VAN METER

The diversity of backgrounds - from fields of pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, law, social welfare and social work-of the many contributors to this book serves to underscore the central message of concern for the children and families of drug addicts. Besharov has put together a collection of high quality papers from a conference which brought together senior. government officials, social service providers, and academic experts. I found in the chapters little redundancy in approach, yet much common ground in the conclusions that current welfare needs redirection to meet current demands. The first section of the book, Drugs and Children, relates the demography and ecology of drug use. The Ards and Mincy study on Neighborhood Ecology focuses on urban concentrations of underclass populations, and the high rate of foster care placements for infants, high drug use, and the high child maltreatment rates associated with such tracts. The remaining chapters of the section focus more specifically on the family behavior of addicted adults and the profound manner in which children are affected, even from being victims to becoming perpetrators. Zuckerman rightly concludes that professionals engage in enabling behavior when they fail to acknowledge awareness of the client's use of drugs or alcohol. The Zuckerman and Delattre chapters added most to the family interventionist's understanding of the interwoven effects of poverty, drug use, and violence on family members.

Other sections on treatment of drug-addicted mothers, the new burden of child welfare, and reorienting child welfare appear to target child welfare policy makers. Hardly a chapter is without an appeal for additional services whether in quality, content or length, all of which seem as cries in the wilderness of current fiscal reform.

Sabol points out the dramatic increases in child abuse and neglect as well as foster care placements after 1985 which is pinpointed as the eruption of the crack cocaine epidemic. Not only have such cases increased, but as children of addicts are born addicted themselves, the cases have become more expensive to serve. …

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