§ Mr. Cousins
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research he has(a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into any association there is between drug use and misuse by those with the care of children and the placing of children on (i) risk of neglect and (ii) child protection registers.
§ Mr. Hutton
"Children's needs—parenting capacity", published by the Department in 1999, draws on a wide range of research, and examines how factors such as drug misuse may impact on children and may affect parental capacity to respond to children's needs.
In addition, a number of studies in the programme of research on the Children Act 1989 have explored the link between drug misuse by those caring for children and the risk of abuse and neglect, in particular "Family support in cases of emotional maltreatment and neglect" and "Making care orders work: A study of their implementation". These two studies will be summarised in a forthcoming Department overview of contemporary research, entitled "The Children Act now: Messages from research". They are being used to inform our key initiatives to improve children's services, in particular quality protects.
We have also recently commissioned research to explore the reasons why increased numbers of children are being looked after by local authorities. This study will provide an opportunity to explore in greater depth the link between drug misuse by those with the care of children and children experiencing neglect and entering local authority care. It is about to start and plans to report by the end of the year.