Friday, 30 June 2017

Support for parents with learning disabilities

This week, during my discussions at an North West Glasgow Networking Event organised by GCVS, I heard about the issues facing parents with learning disabilities and research by IRISS provides information on key concerns:-
  • Families where the parent has a learning disability are often over-represented in the child protection system
  • There is a lack of clarity over the number of parents with learning disabilities currently living in Scotland
  • Early identification of parents is crucial to allow preventative work to take place, however crisis intervention still dominates
  • Tools exist to assess parenting capacity, however, many are unsuitable for parents with learning disabilities and need to be adapted

Copy of report available at weblink: 

The research conclusion states:
"Little is known about how many families are affected by parental learning disability in Scotland and the UK and there are a number of challenges in establishing prevalence rates. It is clear, however, that the lives of parents with learning disabilities are likely to be characterised by marginalisation and disadvantage and they are likely to be disproportionately represented in the child protection system. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that parents with learning disabilities can and do become good enough parents when the right support is in place. This support should be based on the principles of supported parenting set out by SCLD in 2015. Evidence suggests that good progress has been made in providing this support, particularly peri-natally. However, geographical variation remains across the country and further work is needed to ensure that support is available on a longer-term basis with flexibility around key transition points in the life of the child and parents."

This research can be viewed alongside significant work completed on "Investing in advocacy interventions for parents with learning disabilities: what is the economic argument?"
by the London School of Economics published at:

I will ask about the implications of this research on the provision of services by the Council. There is a need to consider the use of specialist parenting programmes as they can provide more effective outcomes for parents with learning disabilities than standard programmes. 

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