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High numbers of children 'forgotten and let down'

Around 140,000 children across the UK are being raised by grandparents and other family and friends due to parental alcohol or substance misuse, according to a new survey released by Grandparents Plus. The charity is joining forces with The Children's Society, Adfam and Mentor UK to highlight the plight of carers raising children under challenging circumstances – who are saving the taxpayer an estimated £5.5 billion a year in care costs.


The survey reveals that parental drug or alcohol abuse is the single biggest reason why grandparents step in to bring up children, with almost half (46%) stating this was the main reason or one of the main reasons. One in ten children in the UK are affected by parental alcohol abuse while one in twenty-five are affected by parental substance misuse. The rise in heavy drinking, particularly among young women, and the increase in the numbers of problem drug users may lead to even more children living with grandparents or other relatives in future.


Other factors leading to children being brought up by family and friends include parental abuse or neglect, imprisonment, illness, disability, bereavement and domestic violence. Many of the carers who are coping with parental alcohol or drug misuse are also dealing with one or more of these other factors.


Grandparents Plus is calling for better access to services and support for family and friend carers and protection from the impact of welfare reform and spending cuts.

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