Children’s and adults’ services must develop joint protocols to provide adequate support for disabled parents and those with additional needs, since current services are “often crisis-driven, short-term and disjointed”.
That was the message from the Social Care Institute for Excellence, which produced best practice guidance for councils and their partners this week on developing protocols to prevent disabled parents falling into the gaps between services.
Scie chief executive Julie Jones said that currently disabled parents’ needs were often picked up by children’s services identifying a child in need or child protection issue, a point backed by Simone Baker, a disabled parent and vice-chair of support group the Disabled Parents Network.
Baker said: “I’m in touch with a lady who’s expecting her first baby and has been told that children’s services will be making an assessment, which is totally inappropriate.”
The institute’s guidance stressed that adults’ services should lead on responding to disabled people’s parenting needs, “so significant problems are prevented from arising and adversely affecting children’s welfare”.
This should mean that disabled people whose direct needs for care are “moderate”, under the fair access to care services regulations, but are also parents, should receive support to prevent their needs becoming “substantial” or “critical”.
Baker said the network’s experience was that social workers and other professionals were not adequately trained in dealing with disabled parents, and added: “We still hear on a daily basis from disabled parents who are having a lot of problems getting the support they are entitled to.”
Jones said Scie’s guidance was “as good as it gets” in terms of current knowledge, and urged councils to act on it.