FASD and child welfare
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Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are often cared for in the child welfare system. Child welfare systems exist globally, and the roots of the intersection between FASD and child welfare have strong origins in North America. The role of child welfare at its core foundation is to assure the survival, security, and development of children and families. Child protection issues such as neglect, abuse, and failure to meet the care and developmental needs of children are primary reasons for removal from parental care. Infants, children, and youth with FASD have distinct care needs, and parents are often reluctant to share information about any alcohol use history during pregnancy out of fear of child apprehension and stigma. Despite a growing body of substantial research legitimizing FASD as a neurodevelopmental disability, FASD is still not perceived and well understood as a legitimate and accepted developmental disability. The behavioral challenges associated with FASD and the need for support by families often factor into referrals to child welfare. This population remains dramatically underserved and poorly understood in child protection services. Limited knowledge about FASD impacts the delivery of effective services aimed at ameliorating the social, emotional, sensory, physical, psychological, and neurological challenges that children living with this disability experience. It is critical that child welfare services to this population have a substantial knowledge base on prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and women’s health in order to provide a more nuanced response in work with children and families. This chapter explores the current state of child welfare care and FASD.
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