Procedure for Assessing and Responding to the Impact of Parental Learning Disability or Learning Difficulty on children

This procedure is intended for anyone involved in providing services to parents who have or appear to have a learning disability or learning difficulty or providing services for children and young people whose parents have or appear to have a learning disability or learning difficulty

Introduction

This procedure is to be used when considering the impact of a parent / carer’s learning disability or learning difficulty on their ability to parent a child.  It involves the practitioner thinking about the nature of the learning disability or learning difficulty and how this will affect the parenting of the child as well as the protective factors for the child so it brings into being the practitioner’s professional judgement.

Considering the impact of parental learning disability or learning difficulty on children: 
 
The following is to support you when considering the impact of parental learning disability or learning difficulty on children; it is not intended to replace professional judgement.  You need to think about the nature of risk but also the protective factors for the child.

Examples of protective factors include:

  • There is another parent or carer that can be depended upon to consistently meet the needs of the child.
  • The parent has insight into their ability, can take action to significantly reduce the impact of
    their difficulties on the child and is sufficiently supported.
  • Effective consistent engagement with support services.

Risk of Significant Harm

If any of the following factors are present they are highly likely to have a direct impact on the safety and well-being of the child. Follow LSCB Child Protection Procedures 

  • Parental learning disability or learning difficulty rendering the child vulnerable to significant harm
  • The child is a target for parental aggression or rejection
  • Co-existing domestic abuse, substance misuse, alcohol abuse or mental illness
  • There is no other parent or carer that can be depended upon to meet the needs of the child
  • The child is the parent’s carer or carer for younger siblings
  • The child has significant additional needs of their own

Moderate to Low Risk of Harm

Where the following factors are present at a lower level of severity than for high risk (above) they may still impact on parenting and result in concerns for the child’s care. Where two or more factors are present the risk of harm should be considered Moderate. Where one factor is present the risk of harm should be considered Low

  • The learning disability or learning difficulty is impacting on the child’s needs being consistently met.
  • The ability for the parent to keep themselves safe.
  • Parental learning disability or learning difficulty rendering the child more vulnerable.
  • Non-compliance with support services, reluctance or difficulty in engaging with necessary services, lack of insight into own limitations/learning disability/learning difficulty and impact of this upon the child.
  • The child is vulnerable due to age, illness, disability or behavioural/emotional issues.

 Not considered at Risk- High functioning parent with multiple protective factors and no evidence of unmet needs for the child.

As events and circumstances may change and a child’s needs will therefore change it is important to keep this under review.

Professionals should be familiar with the Tees LSCBs Information Sharing Protocol.

Mental Capacity Act

The Mental Capacity Act (2005) applies to individuals aged 16 years +. All individuals must be presumed to have capacity unless they fail the test of capacity with the act.

Where a person has a learning disability they may lack capacity to make decisions. Decisions are time and decision specific.

To have capacity a person must be able to:

  • Understand information relating to the decision required (including consequences)
  • Retain the information long enough to make a decision
  • Use or weigh (believe and take into account) the information
  • Communicate a decision in any form recognised by the assessor

Failure on any one point means the person lacks capacity – but only at that particular time for that specific decision.

Where you have concerns that a person may lack capacity you should seek advice from within your agency from an appropriate person.  
 
Download Flowchart 

Useful Guidance Pathway Tools, Contacts and Websites: