FASDs mandated in the law requires:
Policies and procedures (including appropriate referrals to child protection service systems or other appropriate services) to address the needs of infants born with and identified as being affected by illegal substance abuse [sic] or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure, or a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder [FASD], including a requirement that health care providers involved in the delivery of care of such infants notify the child protective services system of that occurrence of such condition of such infants. (The CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010; P.L. 111-320, 106(b)(2)(B)(ii))
As a mandated law, this offers two significant challenges to the Child Welfare Services CWS (Within the USA but also has direct relevance to all CWS globally) in response to this mandated law. Firstly. It institutes in law the need to provide, “policies and procedures’ to meet the needs of all children suffering from illegal substances and those born with an FASD. This directive is a clear mandated requirement to have these children seen, to have their needs met and for CWSWs to devise a safe plan of care. The second major challenge offered is the directive to “health care providers’ to refer to such cases of illicit drugs and FASDs concerns to state child welfare and protection services. This follows on the research and recommendation of (Williams et al., 2015) when it calls upon that all pediatric doctors to make appropriate referrals to CWS of children suffering from an AEP. Such directives are placing and significant burden on CWS and Child welfare social workers (CWSW) and stipulate the need for both policy and practice standards to accommodate such instructions.
With FASD research now spanning over half a century (Lemoine et al.,1968 – Popova et al, 2019) there is still a major level of recognition of this burden falling on CWSW and on the CWS. Where recognition does exist, it tends to follow a medical diagnostic mantra that excludes and airbrushes out the role of CWSWs. Sadly, over recent times, several children living with a with an FASD, are turning up in Coroners Reports Canada and Australia. It is time that child welfare policy is developed with a lens of social justice that CWSWs are empowered with Competency-Based Education (CBE)) on FASDs, and the CWSWs are giving protocols to support them in their interventions to plan safe care for a child living with or suspected of having an FASD. It is also imperative that CWSWs are facilitated with CBE by professionals skilled in the understanding of the complexities of front-line CWS work and that CBE is delivered through a social model of disability framework.