Social Workers May Drug Test Parents to See If They Are Fit to Bring Up Children; 'NANNY STATE' WARNING AS CHILD WELFARE PROPOSAL WINS OFFICIAL SUPPORT

Daily Mail (London), March 20, 2006 | Go to article overview

Social Workers May Drug Test Parents to See If They Are Fit to Bring Up Children; 'NANNY STATE' WARNING AS CHILD WELFARE PROPOSAL WINS OFFICIAL SUPPORT


Byline: GRAHAM GRANT

PARENTS may have to undergo compulsory drug tests to find out if they are capable of raising children properly.

In a radical move, social workers could soon be able to force mothers and fathers with a history of drug abuse to undergo the tests.

The results would then be used to determine whether a child should be taken into care, or to check the progress of parents who claim to have given up drugs.

Supporters of the proposal, drawn up by social workers' professional body the Association of Directors of Social Work (ADSW), say it could help to identify children at risk of neglect or abuse.

Representatives of ADSW have discussed the idea with Education Minister Peter Peacock who is said to have given it his backing.

But last night the scheme was branded another example of the 'nanny state' interfering in family life.

Critics fear it could lead to drug testing being used more widely - for example to vet a couple applying to adopt, or to test the parents of a child who is disruptive at school.

The move will also be seen by many experts as 'too little, too late' given the growing incidence of drug abuse, with up to 60,000 children in Scotland exposed to addiction at home.

Under the plan, children's hearings would be able to order parental drug tests in cases where youngsters are 'placed in significant harm' or where they are 'at risk of significant harm'.

Bernadette Docherty, chairman of ADSW's children and family care committee, said drug tests would be 'extremely useful in helping child protection workers to obtain better information on which to make decisions about children'.

ADSW president Colin Mackenzie said Mr Peacock had been interested in the proposal and has told social work chiefs he will raise it in Cabinet. …

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