FEDUP: interim evaluation report Research into parental alcohol and drug misuse

Boy in counselling sessionParental alcohol and drug misuse is a common feature in child protection investigations. FED UP (Family Environment: Drug Using Parents) is an NSPCC service, which works with parents and children to reduce the risk of harm.

FEDUP is a face-to-face intensive intervention for families where there is parental substance misuse. It aims to:

  • reduce the negative impact of parental alcohol and drug misuse on children by increasing self-esteem amongst children
  • reduce emotional and behavioural difficulties for children, and
  • enhance protective parenting behaviour.

It involves individual work with parents and group work with children aged 5-12 years.

Our interim evaluation report gives findings from questionnaires that children and parents completed at the beginning and end of the programme. It also includes interviews with some of the children and parents who took part. This is part of our Impact and evidence series.

Authors: Rachel Cass and Prakash Fernandes
Published: 2014

Our interim findings provide promising evidence that FEDUP can help reduce the negative impact of parental drug and alcohol misuse on children.

Children and young people reported a decrease in their emotional and behavioural problems

Children found the programme helpful because it:

  • enabled them to develop their skills to improve their emotional well-being;
  • provided a safe space to discuss issues that they previously found difficult to talk about;
  • enabled them to meet other children in similar situations, so helping them to realise that they were not alone and to build new friendships;
  • provided supportive practitioners who made them feel valued.

Some children said that they didn't like:

  • being in groups with varying levels of knowledge about drugs/alcohol
  • being the youngest or oldest child in a group;
  • not having access to support after the programme finished;
  • changes in lead workers delivering the group work.

Parents reported:

  • being less unhappy;
  • being more confident about their parenting;
  • having a greater knowledge about children's needs at the end of the programme.

Parents found the programme helpful because it:

  • gave the time to reflect on how their drug/alcohol taking behaviour affected their child;
  • helped them to see situations from their child's perspective;
  • gave them new skills to address challenging behaviours;
  • gave them a greater understanding about their strengths, so increasing their confidence;
  • provided supportive practitioners.

Some parents said they found the programme difficult because:

  • they struggled with reflecting on the past;
  • some family members, such as teenage children, were excluded from the group work;
  • they were experiencing stress about other things at the time of the programme;
  • they had an initial negative view of the NSPCC as an organisation focussed on preventing child abuse.

This evaluation highlights the complexity of change for these families. Children and young people's well-being increased and parents' awareness about the impact of their drug/alcohol use on the family also increased. But we do not yet have the evidence to show increases to children's self-esteem or parents' protective behaviours.

A final evaluation report will provide more insight into whether the programme was effective in changing parents' understanding, attitudes, and behaviour in the long-term. It will include findings from a comparison group who were on the waiting list for this service. It will also include interviews with practitioners delivering the programme, and the agencies who referred families to the service.

Acknowledgements 3
Key findings: young people's version 4
Key findings 5
Executive summary 6
Main body 9
Chapter 1: Introduction 9
Chapter 2: Outcomes for Children and young people 15
Chapter 3: Factors affecting outcomes for children and young people 19
Chapter 4: Outcomes for parents 25
Chapter 5: Conclusion 34
Bibliography 35
Appendices 37
Appendix 1: Programme details 37
Appendix 2: Research instruments 42
Appendix 3: Ethics Overview 47
Appendix 4: Statistical analysis and qualitative data management 48

Please cite as: Cass, R. and Fernandes, P. (2014) Evaluation of FED UP: interim report. [London]: NSPCC.

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Family Environment: Drug Using Parents (FEDUP)

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