Make the difference!

Working together for children in households with addiction issues.

21-23 March 2023: Workshop in Münster, Germany with 46 participants from 12 partner countries!
On 21-23 March 2023, the fourth workshop of the EU-funded project “Make the difference – together for child protection in families with addiction issues” took place in Münster(DE). The workshop brought together 46 participants from addiction and youth services from 12 countries.

The project partners have for the most part successfully signed cooperation agreements with their local partners from youth welfare or social services for cooperation concerning to families with addiction issues. The workshop offered them the opportunity to share their experiences since the agreements were signed, to acknowledge successes and to consider what can and must be adapted for the final phase of the project.

Another focus was the implementation of the mentoring approach based on the German Balu und Du programme. Under the guidance of Julia de Juan (Balu und Du e.V.), the participants jointly defined the necessary requirements for a successful implementation of a mentoring approach for their target group.

Participants further discussed the possibilities of Motivational Interviewing (MI) for working with parents in addiction counselling, especially as a tool to work on their parenting skills. MI trainer from the Netherlands, Rik Bes, conveyed the approaches of Motivational Interviewing and thus gave new impulses for the work with addicted families.




4-5 October 2022: MTD – Workshop in Almere, the Netherlands

Last week, 39 professionals from addiction and youth services from twelve European countries who are involved in the "Make the difference” project met in Almere (NL) to exchange information on the current status of their cooperation activities and to continue learning from each other regarding the work with families with addiction issues.

After a project duration of almost 18 months, it was gratifying to see that clear changes in the attitude of the professionals could already be detected in the exchange across countries and systems and were appreciated by all participants. The professionals from Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Finland and Germany were able to agree on the following core messages:

  • The protection of the child always comes first.
  • The topic of parenting should be addressed (repeatedly) in the work with addicted parents. Even small changes can have a positive influence on the situation in the family.
  • Parents with addiction problems need support to be "good enough" parents. Professionals can motivate them and offer support while keeping an eye on the child's welfare.
  • Cooperation between the help systems involved is essential to obtain a comprehensive picture of the situation.

In addition to the development and implementation of practical cooperation agreements in the respective countries and regions, the project partners are currently testing a mentoring program for children from families with addiction problems based on the German "Balu und Du" program and are (partly) developing training courses for professionals based on the project results.


Second newsletter

The second project newsletter has been published. Have a look here: Link to newsletter no. 2

screenshot of the title page of the second newsletter

Second project workshop took place with 47 participants from addiction care and youth welfare from 12 EU countries!

On 5-7 April 2022, 47 participants from partner organizations from addiction care/prevention as well as social services, youth welfare and youth work met in Coimbra, Portugal, for the second Workshop of the EU-funded project “Make the difference”!

This workshop has marked the half time of the two-year project which focuses on the cooperation of different help systems when children living in households with addiction issues are concerned.

The aim of the workshop has been to exchange experiences, to learn from each other and to plan the further process.
In addition, an impulse presentation has been given by Corina Giacomello and Mabileau Florence from the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe on the recently published report “Children whose parents use drugs – Promising practices and recommendations”.

All partners are currently preparing cooperation agreements concerning their joint work with families with addiction issues for signature and will implement their agreements throughout the remaining project year and hopefully beyond.


5-7 April 2022: Second project workshop takes place in Coimbra, Portugal

One aim of the “Make the difference” project is to promote protective factors for a healthy development for children living in families with addiction issues. A positive relationship to other adults in their environment can be such a protective factor.

Therefore, from 7-9 February 2022 the project partners from 12 European countries learned all about the mentoring approach of the German association of Balu und Du e.V.
The nationwide mentoring program Balu und Du supports elementary school children in extracurricular activities. Young, committed people take on an individual mentorship for a child on a voluntary basis for at least one year. Through personal affection and active leisure activities, they help the child to develop in our society and learn how to master the challenges of everyday life successfully.

The Make the difference project wants to learn from Balu und Du and discuss HOW to implement a mentoring approach based on Balu und Du as one offer specifically for children from families with addiction issues.

You can learn more about Balu und Du on the program website: and in this video in English:



11-14 October 2021: Hybrid 3-day seminar in Hasselt, Belgium.

In a hybrid 3-day seminar from 11 to 14 October in Hasselt, Belgium, project partners and their local cooperation partners have received information on family dynamics, stress factors and developmental risks of children living in families with addiction issues, roles of affected children in their families protective factors and how to build resilience.

The addiction help professionals have been informed about youth welfare-specific issues and the youth work professionals have gained basic knowledge on addiction issues and how to address these issues with their clients. The seminar included lectures, group work, discussing individual cases and discussions about the attitudes towards families with addiction issues.

Among other aspects, participants have discussed about different attitudes towards families with addiction issues and how to address the children or parenting issues with clients in (addiction) counselling.



Violence against children can take many forms. Besides physical and psychological violence directed against them, growing up in a household with addiction issues can lead to serious psychological problems. Across partner countries, 8-14 % of all drug users are living with children (EMCDDA, 2012). Until today, initiatives have mainly focused on educating professionals and developing group programmes for affected children. However, without identifying those children in the first place, these measures cannot be effective.
Make the difference aims to prevent the endangerment to the welfare of children living in households with addiction issues by focusing on promoting binding cooperation agreements, as well as qualifying professionals and embedding (existing) fitting offers for the children.


The project will specifically answer the question of how to reach a binding cooperation agreement between addiction care and youth welfare services and how to actually live that cooperation by developing a structured guide that will be tested in 12 EU countries by both help systems to ensure practicability and feasibility.
In all partner countries, a cooperation agreement will be prepared along the guide, signed and implemented within the course of the project. The guide will be adapted based on the experience gained from this practical implementation. The implementation of the cooperation agreements can include regular exchanges, case discussions, job shadowing or mutual consultations, always depending on the specific agreement.


In a second work stream, professionals from both help systems will be qualified on issues concerning the target group in joint seminars on the topic of "working with children from families with addiction problems". The joint training also promotes cooperation between the two help systems (Work package 3).

Finally, as a low-threshold prevention measure, a mentoring programme is offered for the identified children. The German programme “Baloo and You” serves as a role model. This is intended to promote positive caring relationships to stable adults as a protective factor for the children and the associated resilience (Work Package 4).



NEED: Binding cooperation structures between youth welfare and addiction prevention at local level are needed for identifying children living in families with addiction issues and being able to offer them help.
ACTION: A structured guide for a binding cooperation will be prepared and implemented by professionals of both help systems. Hereby, a successful cooperation between local help providers will be built up and actually lived.

NEED: A sustainable use of existing offers and systematic networking creates synergies, saves resources and promotes integrated care.
ACTION: Already existing offers for the children will be embedded and supplemented by new ones, based on actual local needs.

NEED: Knowledge about services and support in one's own region and basic knowledge about addiction prevention and pedagogical work are important cornerstones.
ACTION: Addiction prevention professionals receive basic qualification in aspects relevant to youth welfare. On the other side, youth welfare professionals are qualified with basic knowledge of addiction prevention.

NEED: Families with addiction problems often shy away from going to youth welfare offices or counselling centres. Low-threshold services are needed to reach the target group in order to be able to offer help to the children.
ACTION: A mentoring approach is implemented which offers positive relationships with stable adults to the children and thereby promotes the children's protective factors.










Co-funded by the European Union‘s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020)

Duration: May 2021 – October 2023

Project coordinator

LWL-Coordination Office for Drug-Related Issues, Germany
Head of project: Dr. Gaby Bruchmann
Contact person: Rebekka Kleinat
Tel. +49 251 591 5382
E: rebekka.kleinat[at]