SCIE Knowledge review 11: Supporting disabled parents and parents with additional support needs
By Jenny Morris and Michele Wates
Published: November 2006
This knowledge review is about parents with physical and/or sensory impairments, learning difficulties, mental health problems, long-term illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, and drug or alcohol problems. Its main focus is on social care, but integral to this are the relationships between social care and health, housing and education.
- An analysis of the adults' services policy framework relevant to disabled parents and parents with additional needs shows that it does not facilitate appropriate responses from those commissioning and delivering services.
- An analysis of the children's services policy and legislative framework shows that despite inter-agency relationships being a key issue within Every child matters, the importance of adults' and children's services working together to address families' needs has, to a large extent, been lost.
- There is an inadequate knowledge base to inform policy and service development.
- Current structures and procedures mean that responses to the needs of families where one or both parents are disabled or have additional support needs is crisis-driven and short-term.
- There is a lack of national drivers and incentives to encourage better practice in working with disabled parents and their children.
- Support aimed specifically at parents with additional support needs and that meets good practice criteria is neither widespread nor well-established.
- There is a need for:
- materials to promote good practice in supporting disabled parents
- research to address significant gaps in what is known about the needs and experiences of parents with additional support needs
- the development of appropriate indicators for assessing how well families with a disabled parent are supported
- an exploration of the potential of mechanisms such as local public service agreements, local strategic partnerships, local area agreements and individual budgets for enabling social care commissioners and providers to better meet the support needs of disabled parents
- the promotion of practitioner networks to encourage good practice
- the involvement of disabled parents in all activities relating to improving support to families.
About 12 per cent of Britain's 14.1 million parents are disabled and 1.1 million households with dependent children have at least one disabled parent. As well as this, there are a large number of parents who have additional support needs.
There are clear entitlements within the legislative framework for adult social care to support disabled parents. However, parenting roles are not treated as a central issue within the adult social care policy framework. Men's parenting roles and responsibilities are particularly unrecognised. Within the Every child matters policy and legislative framework there is very little recognition of the entitlements that parents have under adult social care legislation for support in their parenting role. And while the children's and adults' policy and legislative frameworks place great emphasis on inter-agency cooperation, there is only limited recognition of the need for children's and adults' services to work together.
This knowledge review is predominantly concerned with how policies and practice address the needs of disabled parents and parents with additional support needs. It will be used to produce practice guidance for practitioners working with disabled parents and parents with additional support needs.
The review will be of interest to policy makers and to practitioners working with disabled parents and parents with additional support needs.