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ParentAssess

A specialist framework designed to assess parents with a learning disability or additional needs.

Assessing parents with learning disabilities

ParentAssess is a specialist framework designed to assess parents with a learning disability or additional issues such as mental health, trauma, exploitation, domestic abuse, alcohol or drug misuse and offending.

Developed by Independent Social Worker Sarah Lowe, who has 30 years’ experience working with children and adults with learning disabilities, ParentAssess is designed to be clear, understandable and measurable to parents and legal advocates.

The framework has been developed to ensure that parents fully understand and are involved in the process. Importantly, the child’s experience of being parented and their views are considered. The parent is also helped to understand the impact of their parenting.

Sarah Lowe, Founder of ParentAssess

Sarah, who spoke to parents, legal advocates, social workers and experienced assessors when producing the assessment, said: “A key issue is that the assessment needs to be accessible and I have designed it to encourage parental involvement as well as being clear and easy to read.”

“An important element of the framework is that it considers cognitive and cultural diversity to reflect the broad range of parents that we assess. The framework is designed so that it can be easily updated to incorporate changes that occur as the issues we explore with parents evolve.”

“An important element of the framework is that it considers cognitive and cultural diversity to reflect the broad range of parents that we assess. The framework is designed so that it can be easily updated to incorporate changes that occur as the issues we explore with parents evolve.”

ParentAssess uses a traffic light system to represent the parents level of parenting capacity over five domains.

  • The child’s experience of being parented
  • The parent’s daily living skills
  • How the parent functions
  • Specific issues such as domestic or drug abuse
  • Support.

It is recommended that the assessment takes place over an eight to 12 week time-frame, depending on whether the parent needs to work at a slower pace. Usually there are six sessions with the parent, plus observations of the parent with their child. The support network is also carefully explored as this is usually of particular importance with parents who have a learning disability.

A software programme can be purchased that is easy to use and makes it quicker to complete an assessment, but the framework can be used without this if preferred.

Why ParentAssess?

  • It is specifically designed for use in Family Proceedings and is Re D compliant.
  • The parent is enabled to understand the process and outcome. The whole framework is designed to be easy to read and understand.
  • The assessment is completed by one trained assessor who must be SWE registered, as different people assessing the parent can be confusing.
  • The questions asked of the parent are no different than would be asked of a parent without a learning disability, so importantly the bar is not set higher.
  • The child’s experience of being parented is at the centre of the assessment. Issues such as attunement, attachment and the child’s developmental journey are considered carefully.
  • ParentAssess covers additional issues that often affect these vulnerable parents, such as domestic abuse, offending, mental health, drug and alcohol abuse.

ParentAssess provides training courses for professionals to help them focus on developing skills in working with parents who have learning disabilities.

WillisPalmer has a range of Independent Social Workers trained in ParentAssess. To find out more, contact Head of Services, Dave Wareham on 01206 878169 or at dave@willispalmer.com

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