The number of parents with a learning disability is growing rapidly, as the closure of institutions and the rise of community living encourage this population to take on…
The number of parents with a learning disability is growing rapidly, as the closure of institutions and the rise of community living encourage this population to take on roles that were previously denied to them (DoH, 2001). People with a learning disability are seen as people first, with the right to be a parent and raise a child, a valued role in society. The rise in the number of parents with a learning disability can also be attributed to the discontinuation of enforced sterilisation and increasing opportunities to form relationships in which consensual sex is accepted and supported (Martin & Ticktum, 1987). Accordingly, the research on the ability of parents with learning disability to provide adequate parenting is expanding. However, research on the effect on the child of having a parent with a learning disability is still limited. This article will first look at the literature on factors affecting the ability of parents with a learning disability to care for their children adequately. The effects of having a parent with a learning disability will then be considered, and finally the implications for clinical practice will be outlined.
There is increasing awareness of the needs of parents who have a learning disability with the emphasis being on the requirement to provide ‘good enough’ parenting to their…
There is increasing awareness of the needs of parents who have a learning disability with the emphasis being on the requirement to provide ‘good enough’ parenting to their children. This paper explores these issues and considers how these parenting needs might be addressed.
According to government policy, parents with learning disabilities should be provided with the support that they need to bring up their children successfully. In practice…
According to government policy, parents with learning disabilities should be provided with the support that they need to bring up their children successfully. In practice, however, their risk of having their children removed from them is high. This article reports on findings from a study designed to identify and map positive practice in supporting parents with learning disabilities and their children. It reviews the barriers confronting adults with learning disabilities who want to have and look after their children. It also describes a range of examples of positive practice, demonstrated by professionals and supporters of different backgrounds across the UK, aimed at helping adults with learning disabilities to parent successfully so that they can keep their children with them. It concludes with a discussion of what is needed to facilitate the spread of such examples of positive practice in the future.
Annual increases in the number of parenting referrals made to a learning disability team over a ten‐year period led to this audit. The increase in the number of these…
Annual increases in the number of parenting referrals made to a learning disability team over a ten‐year period led to this audit. The increase in the number of these referrals highlights a growing need for services to support parents with learning disabilities, to ensure that children remain in the family home wherever possible. Previous research has identified several factors that may reduce a learning‐disabled parent's ability to parent his or her children effectively, including social and familial issues. This audit aimed to examine the relationship between parents' demographics and children's outcomes, specifically whether children were removed from the family home. Information was gathered from the files of both the learning disability team and social services, and involved all parenting referrals made to this team between 1994 and 2003. The findings of this audit suggest that the earlier services can become involved with parents, the better the outcomes for their children will be. If services do not become involved early on, the children are more likely to have developmental problems, and once child protection proceedings have begun there is a very high likelihood that children will be removed from the family home.
Women with learning disabilities are at high risk of losing their children, yet their experience of this process remains under‐investigated. This study looks at the…
Women with learning disabilities are at high risk of losing their children, yet their experience of this process remains under‐investigated. This study looks at the experiences of eight mothers with learning disabilities who lose custody of their children. In‐depth, semi‐structured interviews were conducted to explore their experiences. Findings suggest that concern about the women's parenting tend to be raised by other people, rather than the women themselves. Many of the women appeared not to understand the process of their children's removal, and said that they felt bullied and victimised by it. All blamed their violent partner or the social workers for what had happened, while some blamed their ‘learning disabilities’. All commented that they had received inadequate support from both services and their families before and after their children were removed. All described intense feelings of loss. The psychological impact seemed to reinforce their feelings of powerlessness and brought the salience of their learning disabilities into focus. Service and clinical implications are addressed.
The purpose of this paper is to consider the impact of mental capacity legislation when applied to parents with learning difficulties who lack capacity within childcare…
The purpose of this paper is to consider the impact of mental capacity legislation when applied to parents with learning difficulties who lack capacity within childcare and family law proceedings in England and Wales.
The paper relies on a range of material including reports published by independent mental health foundations, official inquiries and other public bodies. It also refers to academic and practitioner material in journals and government guidance.
The paper critically reviews the application of the guidance when assessing mental capacity legislation as applied in England and Wales and offers by way of illustration several case examples where psychological assessments, and the enhancement of capacity, have assisted parents who were involved in childcare and family law proceedings.
There has been little published research or governmental reports on the number of cases when parents involved in childcare and family law proceedings have been found to lack capacity. No published prevalence data are available on the times when enhancing capacity has resulted in a change of outcome in childcare and family law proceedings.
The duty is on the mental health practitioners assessing mental capacity that they do so in a structured and supportive role adhering to good practice guidance and follow the guiding principles of mental capacity legislation assuming that the individual has capacity unless it is established that they lack capacity. Guidance and training is needed to ensure that the interpretation of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and its application is applied consistently.
For those who are considered to lack mental capacity to make specific decisions, particularly within childcare and family law proceedings, safeguards are in place to better support such individuals and enhance their capacity in order that they can participate more fully in proceedings.
While the MCA legislation has now been enacted for over ten years, there is very little analysis of the implications of capacity assessments on parents involved in childcare and family law proceedings. This paper presents an overview and, in places, a critical analysis of the new safeguarding duties of mental health practitioners when assessing for, and enhancing capacity in parents.
While an increasing number of adults with an intellectual disability are having children, research suggests that they face an increased risk of having their children…
While an increasing number of adults with an intellectual disability are having children, research suggests that they face an increased risk of having their children removed. The purpose of this paper is to explore child and family social workers’ experiences of working with parents with intellectual disability, in order to further our understanding of this issue.
Seven social workers were interviewed. Each had experience of working on safeguarding cases where a parent had a diagnosis of intellectual disability. Data were analyzed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis.
Five super-ordinate themes were identified. These were: “feeling torn,” “experiencing a power imbalance,” “hopelessness,” having “pride” in their work’ and experiencing “barriers.”
The results are discussed in the context of the increased risk that parents with an intellectual disability face of having their children removed. Several areas for future research are identified.
The study highlights several areas for development regarding services for parents with intellectual disability.
The study describes some of the difficulties experienced by social workers in this area of their work, from their own perspective. It also strengthens existing ideas about improving services for parents with intellectual disability.
According to international conventions and UK government policy, parents with intellectual disability have a right to have children and should have access to support to…
According to international conventions and UK government policy, parents with intellectual disability have a right to have children and should have access to support to help them bring them up successfully. Government good practice guidance sets out what form that support should take, but in practice parents with intellectual disability are still disproportionately at risk of having their children taken from them. This article reviews the challenges parents face in holding on to their children and the support they need, both from professionals and from the wider extended family where appropriate. The importance of having access to independent advocacy, especially in child protection or court proceedings is highlighted; such advocacy is not widely available, despite recent policy commitments in this area.
Women with learning disabilities have many social, personal and psychological problems that stem from being neglected, as well as from being doubly disadvantaged by their…
Women with learning disabilities have many social, personal and psychological problems that stem from being neglected, as well as from being doubly disadvantaged by their gender and their learning disability. Most of these psychosocial problems are not addressed as they arise, and lead to psychiatric diagnosis and medicalisation of non‐medical issues. It is important to recognise parenting in women with learning disabilities, as well as concerns such as sexual and emotional abuse and violence, and to address them by appropriate agencies. Research suggests that trained mental health staff with a good understanding of gender as well as of disabilities would be able to address the needs before they turn into crises. International and national surveys give a good understanding of where the needs lie and how services could be structured most effectively. Recognition of the problems, a robust gender‐sensitive approach and management skills at community level seem to be most important in dealing with women with learning disabilities. Most women with learning disabilities need local, generic, gender‐sensitive non‐stigmatising services. Only a very small minority of women with behavioural problems will need the highly specialised psychiatric learning disabilities team.