The Working Together with Parents Network (WTPN) believes that if provided with earlier personalised support, many parents would not become involved with the child protection system and fewer children would be placed in care.
The foreword to the WTPN 2021 Good Practice update (PDF, 1,179kB) on Working with Parents with a Learning Disability states in England that:
‘People with learning disabilities have the right to be supported in their parenting role, just as their children have the right to live to live in a safe and supportive environment.’
The guidance recognises that parents with learning disabilities/difficulties can be good parents if provided with positive support.
The five key features of good practice in working with parents with learning disabilities/difficulties:
- Accessible information and communication
- Clear and co-ordinated referral and assessment procedures and processes, eligibility criteria and care pathways
- Support designed to meet the needs of parents and children based on assessments of their needs and strengths
- Long-term support where necessary
- Access to independent advocacy.
Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 (children in need) states that local authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need and, so far as it is consistent with that duty, ‘to promote the upbringing of such children by their families by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs’.
Early preventative support clearly is essential to this statutory principle and to the principles set out in, for example, Children’s Act 2004, Working Together 2018.
The WTPN recognises that many professionals do not feel adequately equipped to work effectively with parents with learning disabilities/difficulties. Our principal aim is to support professionals and to share positive practice.
Please also see the Scottish Good Practice Guidelines for Supporting Parents with Learning Disabilities if applicable.