Parents with Learning Disabilities.

Posted on Tuesday, 5th Jul, 2016 at 08:09:48 PM
Where there are concerns that parents / carers have a learning disability, the PAM (Parenting Assessment Manual) should be undertaken by a social worker trained in using this assessment tool. If this assessment concludes that the parents / carers do have a learning disability then it is important that the parents support needs are considered and they are informed of the need to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. The social worker should ensure, where possible, they have a legal representative at the Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC) and at the Birth Protection Planning Meeting (BPPM).


The meeting should take place at the hospital where the birth is planned or expected, or where the responsible midwifery service is or would be if the parents have not booked service provision prior to the birth.

The meeting should be chaired by a Surrey Children's Services Team Manager or Assistant Team Manager and involve:
Community Midwife;
Maternity Services Manager;
GP;
Health Visitor;
Police;
Named Nurse/Doctor for Safeguarding;
Social worker;
Obstetricians;
Other professionals as appropriate e.g. mental health services, probation, substance misuse professionals;
Where required, a legal adviser..

The purpose of the meeting is the same as that of other Strategy Discussions/Meetings and should determine:
Whether a Section 47 Enquiry and pre-birth Assessment is required;
Particular requirements of a pre-birth Assessment, including what areas are to be considered;
Role and responsibilities of agencies in the assessment;
Role and responsibilities of agencies to provide support before and after the birth, particularly the role of adult services working with expectant parent(s);
Identity of responsible social worker to ensure planning and communication of information;
Timescales for the assessments and enquiries, bearing in mind the expected date of delivery;
A contingency plan in case of premature labour;

At the Legal Planning Meeting, the social worker must ensure the impact of the learning disability is fully explored as it is likely that once in the court arena, the parents solicitor will request a capacity assessment. This will assist the court in determining whether an official solicitor should be appointed to act as Guardian for the parent with the learning disability under the Mental Capacity Act 2005...

It is critically important that the pre birth assessment identifies as early as possible whether the parent has a learning disability. These parents are particularly vulnerable and in cases where removal of the baby might be the outcome, evidence illustrating what measures have been taken to support the parents and ensure the Human Rights Act 1998 has not been contravened will be required. This is particularly pertinent where the parents learning difficulties preclude them from giving informed consent to the proposed plan.

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