A couple of weeks ago I wrote several blog posts and a column in Community Care about the challenges faced by parents (and prospective parents) who have learning disabilities. We have a partnership with CHANGE, which has produced training and learning materials for Shared Lives schemes working in this area.
The good people at Community Care saw this as an area that needed looking into further and have now published a really powerful article on it. They interviewed a parent and Philippa from CHANGE, as well as myself: http://bit.ly/fr00A3. Their top tops for practitioners are:
● Start from the position that people with learning disabilities can be good parents if they receive the right support and information.
● Provide information in accessible formats from before birth, such as advice booklets produced by the charity Change.
● Develop joint protocols with children’s services defining how you will work together to support learning disabled parents.
● Recognise that where “vital family and other social roles and responsibilities cannot or will not be undertaken”, an adult has critical care needs, under government guidance, and is eligible for support.
I would add one more tip: It takes a village to raise a child. The greatest source of support for ALL new parents is friends, family and neighbours. Some parents with learning disabilities do require additional help and support services. However, successful parenting and child rearing requires more than paid practitioners can ever provide. Any plans for supporting parents with learning disabilities need to proactively engage a broader community in order to be successful.