On the morning of 4 December 2008 a cross-section of Irish charities/NGOs along with public health officials met to discuss the estimated 61,000 to 104,000 children in Ireland affected by parental alcohol problems. It was the first opportunity many of us had to focus on the issue and share experiences.

Two themes quickly emerged from presentations and discussions:

Children experiencing alcohol related harm in the family due to parental alcohol problems are effectively “invisible” in terms of policy-making and this “invisibility” filters down to services

There does not appear to be an integrated “joined-up” service response to meet the needs of these children and their families

What needs to happen…

Children affected by parental alcohol problems need to become visible to politicians; policy-makers; professionals working in the area and the public.

Services available to children need to join-up; mechanisms need to be put in place connecting service experience/ observations to top-level planning and funding levels

The Scottish experience suggests real change only came about when this issue is framed as a potential child welfare/ protection.

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