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Alcohol: The Elephant in the Social Care Room



AFA Cymru


Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a permanent, lifelong disability caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. It affects a considerable number of children and young people in the UK. Crucially, looked after and adopted children, who are often born into drug and alcohol abusing families, are more likely to be affected than those in the general population. Studies suggest that at least one-third of looked after children come into care with a parental history of alcohol misuse.

Although the situation is slowly improving, there still are many British professionals in health, education and social services who have a poor awareness of, and a lack of training in, the complexity of this invisible disability. Increased professional knowledge and understanding are key to successful future management of this disorder – and social workers have a vital role to play. This conference will address some key questions: What is FASD, and how can it affect children? How is it diagnosed and managed? How can social workers ensure that they take FASD into account when working with and placing children and supporting them and their families?


Social workers, Adoption and LAC teams, Adoption and Fostering Panel members and chairs, medical advisers and educational professionals especially those working with children with special needs.


Dr Mary Mather is a retired Consultant Community Paediatrician. She has been involved in the medical assessment of looked after children since 1990. She has been the medical adviser to 3 local authority panels, a voluntary adoption agency and an intercountry adoption panel. She was also the designated doctor for safeguarding for over 20 years.

She has been involved in a national training programme for midwives on the impact of exposure to alcohol in pregnancy. She also trains medical advisers in adoption and fostering to increase their confidence in making an FASD diagnosis and provides input to the preparation group for intercountry adopters.

She has published 32 articles in peer-reviewed journals. She is the author of “Doctors for Children in Public Care” and co-author of “Parenting a Child with an Invisible Disability: The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders”. She has recently written a Good Practice Guide for social workers on dealing with FASD. She was also responsible for the BAAF guidelines on the assessment of obesity and smoking in substitute carers.


AFA Cymru, email rhyl-afacymru@stdavids.org or telephone 01745 336336.

AFA Cymru FASD conf booking form


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