Working together to support disabled parents

The policy and legislative frameworks for adults’ and children’s services

Starting points

Policy, legislation and guidance provide the framework within which services operate and establish that:

For children and parents generally the policy aims set out in Every child matters: change for children are that every child, whatever their background or their circumstances, should have the support they need to:

Children’s Services Authorities are required to lead the development of strategic children and young people’s plans which should identify where outcomes need to be improved and how to achieve these improvements. The Childcare Act 2006 places a duty on local authorities to reduce inequalities in well-being between young children in their area and to provide accessible information to parents.

The policy background set out for adults’ social care sets similar goals as Every child matters about equality of outcomes for adults who have additional support needs. The White Paper Our health, our care, our say establishes the following outcomes for social care:

The Human Rights Act 1998 upholds the right of everyone to respect for private and family life, while the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Northern Ireland Act 1998 require public authorities to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people.

More specifically, the National service framework for children, young people and maternity services recognises that some parents require:

National service framework for children, young people and maternity services: core standards

Markers of good practice (8)

  • Multi-agency working to support parenting is outlined in all local strategic and service plans.
  • Information and services to support parenting (by mothers and fathers and carers) are available and coordinated through local multi-agency partnerships.
  • Support for all parents with pre-school children is available from early years’ settings including nurseries, Sure Start local programmes and Children’s Centres.
  • Parents whose children are experiencing difficulties (for example, because of learning disabilities and/or challenging behaviour) receive early support and evidence-based interventions. The requirements for local provision are identified in strategic planning.
  • Collaborative arrangements are in place between services for adults and those for children and families to ensure effective joint assessment and support/treatment to enhance parent’s parenting capacity and protect and promote the well-being and welfare of children.
  • Adults caring for looked-after children have early, accessible, multidisciplinary support.
  • Primary care trusts and local authorities ensure that local parents are involved in the planning and delivery of services, with representation from all local communities and groups.

Where children are at risk of experiencing significant harm, a key marker of good practice is that:

'A broad range of integrated, evidence-based services are available: to prevent children and young people from being harmed; to safeguard those who are likely to suffer significant harm and; to address the needs of those children who have suffered harm. The services should, at the same time, provide support to their parents/carers.’ (9)

Parenting support: Guidance for local authorities in England (10) requires authorities in England to complete parenting strategies linked to the Children and young people’s plan and to identify a single commissioner in children’s services whose role includes that of:

'Developing a formal set of protocols which define how different agencies should work together in supporting parents including pooled or aligned budgets for programmes and staff training.’(11)

The policy framework also addresses particular support needs:

Supporting people is an organisation that provides housing-related support services. It has issued policy and guidance which plays an important part of the policy framework as some parents with additional support needs either live in or require supported housing to live independently in the community. Local authorities are required to analyse the need for such services in their area and to develop, with relevant partners, commissioning strategies to meet these needs. The policy and guidance is also intended to encourage the development of packages of care and support between housing, health and social care.(15) In addition, the Homelessness Act 2002 places a duty on housing authorities to work with other agencies to tackle and prevent homelessness. For Northern Ireland, see the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.

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