Parents with disabilities

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Parents with disabilities in the AIFS library catalogue

Achieving safe and certain homes for children: recommendations to improve the permanency amendments to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 based on the experience of our clients

Victoria Legal Aid
Melbourne, Vic. : Victoria Legal Aid, 2020.
In this report, Victoria Legal Aid reviews the impact of the child protection permanency law reforms in Victoria and makes recommendations for further reform. In the four years since the 'Children, Youth and Families (Permanent Care and Other Matters) Act 2014' came into effect, Victoria Legal Aid has provided 9,626 grants of assistance to child protection clients. The reforms aimed to provide timely, safe, permanent homes for children who need state intervention and prompt support for families at risk, but an analysis of Victoria Legal Aid data shows that these goals are not being achieved and that the new COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have exacerbated existing challenges for parents seeking reunification. The report discusses the key findings, regarding the difference between permanency in law and a permanent home, the impact of rigid timeframes, the impact of reduced court oversight on opportunity for review of decisions, and the impact of COVID-19. Also, though there are positive results from initiatives that support connection to community and culture for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, these families are still overrepresented in the system. The report concludes with four overarching recommendations for reform - most urgently to the reunification timeframes.

Practices that support parenting by parents with intellectual disability.

Collings S and Spencer M
CFCA short article 29 Sep 2020
This short article outlines the challenges faced by Australian parents with intellectual disability and looks at best practice and policy responses, with reference to the research evidence. Studies show that these parents value support that is strengths-based, prioritises what they see as important and provides opportunities to learn on their own terms. Based on the research, several key principles of good practice can be made. This article is the first in a series focusing on disability in Australia, including best-practice evidence for particular areas of policy and practice.

Violence prevention and early intervention for mothers and children with disability: building promising practice : key findings and future directions.

Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety Limited
Sydney : ANROWS, 2020.
This paper highlights the key findings and policy implications from a recent study into best practice in early intervention programs for domestic and family violence in families with additional support needs. The study reviewed processes at one program, Family Referral Services in New South Wales, a government-funded service to improve access to services for at risk families who do not meet the threshold for statutory child protection, and consulted with mothers with disability and children and young people with disability about their experiences. The study identified that a holistic approach to safety and a focus on barriers to support is key to responding to the needs of these families.

Violence prevention and early intervention for mothers and children with disability: building promising practice

Robinson S, Valentine K, Newton B, Smyth C and Parmenter N
Sydney : ANROWS, 2020.
Domestic and family violence early intervention programs are intended to identify risks within families and ensure that timely responses are delivered before risks escalate. However, families with additional support needs are one of several groups that face challenges with these programs. This report provides a case study of one program, Family Referral Services in New South Wales, a government-funded service to improve access to services for at risk families who do not meet the threshold for statutory child protection. The study aims to identify effective processes and practices in the service, as well as challenges and limitations. It investigates the program characteristics that provide effective support to families with multiple and intersecting support needs, how Family Referral Services respond to client needs, and the experiences of mothers with disability - and children and young people with disability - with family support services and the perceived facilitators and barriers to support. The findings highlight a range of positive practices and points to improve well-known blockages in service systems.

'She was there if I needed to talk or to try and get my point across' : specialist advocacy for parents with intellectual disability in the Australian child protection system.

Collings S, Spencer M, Dew A and Dowse L
Australian Journal of Human Rights v. 24 no. 2 2018: 162-181
Specialist advocates can help parents with intellectual disability navigate the child protection system and participate fully in proceedings. This article explores the impact of a specialist advocacy service on parents' experiences with the child protection and court systems, drawing on interviews with parents with intellectual disability in New South Wales.

Support for new parents and babies in New South Wales

Conolly K
Sydney, N.S.W. : Parliament of New South Wales, 2018.
This inquiry investigates current services and supports for parents of infants in New South Wales, and how they can be improved. Research highlights the benefits and cost-effectiveness of early intervention and support for parents during their children's early years, so this inquiry was established to examine the adequacy of current services and structures, especially for vulnerable parents, and consider the changes to current services and structures that could improve physical health, mental health and child protection outcomes, models of support provided in other jurisdictions, and the opportunities for new and emerging technology to enhance support. This report presents the findings and recommendations of the inquiry, beginning with the need for better coordinated and integrated universal child and family health services. Topics include home visiting services and services targeting fathers, perinatal mental health, parents with disability, Indigenous families, parents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and young homeless parents.

Child aware practice in adult social services : a scoping review.

Tilbury C, Walsh P and Osmond J
Australian Social Work v. 69 no. 3 2016: 260-272
The development of 'child aware' practice is about the capacity and capability of adult health and social service providers to identify and respond to the needs of children. A scoping review of the literature considered five adult adversities associated with family stress and reduced parenting capacity: mental illness, alcohol and substance abuse, homelessness, intellectual disability, and domestic violence. Although there are specific needs for children pertaining to particular adversities, there was substantial commonality of potential effects. These included emotional and psychological difficulties, physical and mental health problems, academic difficulties, language delays, peer difficulties, stigma, trauma reactions, loss and grief, instability, and social exclusion. How children react to difficulties in their family depends upon various protective factors, a child's frame of reference, and other dynamics within the family that can offset risks. The findings aim to inform policy, program development, and practice in adult social services, enhancing their responsiveness to children. (Journal article)

The experience of parents with disability in the child protection system

Vargas C
Hobart, Tas. : Office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Tasmania, 2014
Research suggests that parents with disability are disproportionately represented in child protection and care proceedings and face discriminatory practices in court. However, the research is limited and little is known about the situation in Tasmania. This report looks into the experiences of people with disability in the child protection and family services system in Tasmania and identifies the points at which there is a risk of discrimination or whether support arrangements are in place. A particular focus are the Gateway services established to provide a single access point to obtain information and advice in relation to family support and specialist disability services. The report draws on consultations with stakeholders from advocacy and support services. It provides information on human rights obligations and the service system and policy context in Tasmania, then discusses the stakeholder findings relating to the accessibility and availability of information, disability as a risk factor for notification, child protection investigation and assessment, participation and rights in court processes, and access to supports. The stakeholders also discussed the impact of child removal on parents. The report concludes by outlining some of the suggested approaches that may assist in ensuring that decisions made within the child protection and family support system are based on principles of equity, inclusiveness, access and autonomy for people with disability.

About Families: exploring the evidence on disability.

Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Capability Scotland, Parenting Across Scotland (Organisation), About Families (Project)
Edinburgh : Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, 2013
The About Families project aimed to meet the changing needs of parents by providing accessible and relevant evidence to inform services. Topic areas included parenting teenagers, supporting families through change, parenting on a low income, and parent support. This report focuses on these issues for families affected by disability: reviewing the evidence as well as the gaps in the research. It is supplemented by quotes from a survey of disabled parents and parents of children with disabilities in Scotland on parenting issues. The report aims to provide a deeper understanding of parenting and family issues for practitioners in the disability field.

About Families project report, May 2013

Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Capability Scotland, Parenting Across Scotland (Organisation), About Families (Project)
Edinburgh : Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, 2013
"The About Families partnership sought to ensure that the changing needs of parents - including families affected by disability - are met by providing accessible and relevant evidence to inform services. Over three years (2010-2013), About Families identified and investigated four key parenting topics, produced clear language topic reports, and supported a range of organisations and services to use evidence, and consult with service users, to inform service development. The project also piloted an Evidence Bank, which produced concise evidence reviews in direct response to family and disability service-related research questions. This report: outlines the 'evidence to action' model devised by About Families to facilitate using evidence in practice; summarises key findings across the four topics explored; offers case studies of how About Families supported organisations and services to use evidence in practice and consult with service users; outlines the Evidence Bank; and shares learning arising from the project."

Disabled parents: diversity, experiences, and support needs

New Zealand. Families Commission
Wellington N.Z. : Families Commission, 2012.
This resource was developed to share existing knowledge about the needs and experiences of disabled parents, and the support and initiatives that contribute to positive outcomes. It draws on information from New Zealand and overseas, regarding issues and challenges facing disabled parents, family formation, parenting and different types of disability, young carers, guidelines and initiatives to support parents and families in New Zealand, support delivery gaps, and barriers to service access.

Parenting and support: topic report.

Mountney K
Edinburgh : Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, 2012
This literature reviews examines the research on how parents seek, experience, and manage support. It discusses social support from family and friends, support from formal services, social aspects of formal support, and issues for families affected by disability. This review was conducted by the About Families project to help inform voluntary and public sector agencies in the development of services.

Child Aware Approaches Project literature review

Tilbury C, Walsh P and Ormond J
South Brisbane, Qld. : Micah Projects Inc., 2012
This literature review examines five factors that may affect parenting: mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, intellectual disability, and domestic violence. The review includes Australian and international research, and focuses on the impact on children and needs assessment.

Families with multiple and complex needs: best interests case practice model : specialist practice resource

Bromfield L, Sutherland K and Parker R
Melbourne : Dept of Human Services, c2012.
This resource, for child protection and family services in Victoria, provides guidance for working with families facing numerous, chronic and inter-related problems. Part 1 is an introduction to the issues, including the development of multiple needs, the impact on parenting, and Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families. Part 2 is a practice tool on strategies for working with families experiencing multiple and complex needs. It discusses adopting a child-focused and family-centred approach, information gathering, engaging parents, undertaking a comprehensive family assessment, risk assessment, assessing parenting capacity, planning an intervention, undertaking interventions, and reviewing outcomes. The resource also includes appendices on the impact of certain parental issues on parenting, including substance use, intimate partner violence, mental illness, learning difficulties, and acquired brain injury.

Safety of subsequent children: international literature review

Kerslake Hendricks A and Stevens K
Wellington, N.Z. : Families Commission, 2012.
This literature review investigates issues regarding parents who lose custody of children through a care and protection intervention who then have additional children who may be at risk. The review focuses on how to assist families overcome their complex issues so that subsequent children are not at risk, and what can be done to prevent subsequent children coming into families. It discusses the research from New Zealand and overseas on: characteristics of families where subsequent children may be at risk, referral pathways and assessment, family-focused interventions, family planning education and coerced contraception, and legislation and policy.

From our perspective: exploring the strength and resilience of families that include a parent with a disability

Raffensperger M, Morton M, Gage J, Caldwell F, Penfold-Green C, Raffensperger R and Fulop K
Wellington N.Z. : Families Commission, 2012
This report brings a strengths approach to studying parents with a disability. It presents findings from a research study of 20 families from around Canterbury in New Zealand, based on interviews with parents with a disability and their partners, children and family friends on their experiences, needs, strengths, and the factors that contribute to their wellbeing. The disabilities among the parents include mental disorders, chronic illness, mobility impairments, sensory disabilities, and disabilities related to learning, processing, communicating, and remembering.

An innovative support group for parents with intellectual disabilities whose children have been removed.

Mayes R, Tozer R and Elder M
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 29 Spring 2011: 58-67
The Parents on the Outside program is an eight-week program offering bereavement support for parents with intellectually disabilities who have had their children removed by child protection services. It was developed by the Womens Activities and Self Help House in Western Sydney, New South Wales. This article describes the purpose of the program and the support needs of participants, evaluates the benefits of the pilot program from the perspectives of facilitators and participants, and makes recommendations for practice.

Intensive family support programs: keeping children with a disability safely in their families

Breckenridge J and Huppert S
Sydney : Centre for Gender-Related Violence Studies UNSW, 2010.
This research study was commissioned to examine the development and effectiveness of Intensive Family Support programs funded by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care and provided by The Spastic Centre of NSW, Northcott Disability Services and UnitingCare Burnside. The main aim is determine whether client families experienced an increase in confidence and competence and if the programs contribute significantly to maintaining child safety within the family. The study examined team formation and development, referral and exit processes, the effectiveness of the range of support options offered, and the effectiveness of programs for different client groups, in particular culturally and linguistically diverse families, Indigenous families, and families with parental intellectual disability. This final report focuses on the impact on families, the key learnings and the factors for success, and follows on from an interim report submitted in 2008.

Improving the safety, health and wellbeing of children through improving the physical and mental health of mothers, fathers and carers

Blewett J
London : Centre for Excellence and Outcomes on Children and Young People's Services (C4EO), 2010.
This rapid literature review summarises what works in improving the safety, health and wellbeing of children through improving the physical and mental health of parents and carers. Chapters include: what proportion of mothers, fathers and carers experience mental and/or physical health problems and what are their characteristics?; what is the relationship between mothers', fathers' and carers' mental and physical health and their children's safety, health and wellbeing?; and what interventions and support mechanisms are most effective in increasing children's safety, health and wellbeing through improving mothers', fathers' and carers' physical and mental health?

Caring for families caring for a person with a disability.

Edwards B
Family Relationships Quarterly no. 11 2009: 3-9
Caring can affect many aspects of the lives of carers and their families. The complex effects of caring can present difficulties for practitioners who assist carers and their families to care for the person with a disability and for themselves. With the aim of broadening practitioners' understanding of these issues, the Families Caring for a Person with a Disability Study investigated the impact of caring for a person with a disability on carers who received government payments to care, and on their families. This article highlights some key findings from the study. It discusses the emotional, physical, relational and economic costs of caring, caring and social isolation, and supporting carers. The final section of the article presents a range of resources that practitioners can draw on in supporting carers and their families.

Parental intellectual disability/learning difficulties vulnerability

New South Wales. Dept. of Community Services.
Ashfield, N.S.W. : NSW Dept. of Community Services, 2007.
Some of the parents participating in the NSW Department of Community Services' (DoCS') Brighter Futures program have an intellectual disability. This guide provides information for social workers about intellectually disabled parents and the child protection system, relevant legislation, characteristics of vulnerable families, assisting intellectually disabled parents to improve their parenting capacity, the impact of parental intellectual disability on the child, evidence-based practice principles for working with vulnerable families, and a list of endorsed research and resources.

Healthy Start: a national strategy for children of parents with learning difficulties.

McConnell D, Llewellyn G, Matthews J, Hindmarsh G, Mildon R and Wade C
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 16 Winter 2006 34-42
A significant number of parents with learning difficulties require the help of various human services. The children of these parents often experience poor health outcomes and development delays. This article discusses the gap between support needs and service capacity. It describes the national Healthy Start strategy, which aims to help practitioners support parents with learning difficulties and their children.

Intellectual disability and parenting.

Mildon R, Wade C and Matthews J
Every Child v. 12 no. 1 2006 12-13
Parents with an intellectual disability are over represented in child protection services and care proceedings. This article discusses three factors that may contribute to this trend: assumptions people have about disability; high levels of disadvantage faced by these families; and gaps in effective services, support and resources for these families. The article considers the benefits of providing parent skills education in conjunction with other family focused support.

Early Intervention Parenting Project.

Jenkin C and Jewell P
9-11 February 2005
The Early Intervention Parenting Project (EIPP) planned to demonstrate a model for the delivery of a comprehensive service to parents of young children throughout Victoria. The project is based on the national Program for Parents, which demonstrated, through an external evaluation, a reduction in risk factors for youth suicide The EIPP model focuses on the universal needs of families with young children, as well as the specific needs of parents with an intellectual disability, parents of children with disabilities and Aboriginal parents. The key philosophy and beliefs informing EIPP are based on those identified in the Planning Happy Families program (Jenkin 1988, 1993). The project emphasizes the importance on improving parent/child relationships and gaining a better understanding of child development and building hope and optimism in the family. The project also focuses on increasing confidence in parenting through teaching better communication practices and approaches. The project places emphasis on the benefits of shared experiences and caring for others in order to build community capacity and overcome the sense of isolation that many parents may experience. The process involved: extensive community consultation; training professionals in the early childhood field; external evaluation of training and parent groups; feedback process from facilitators and a final report on findings. This paper will share outcomes and results and the direction of the project for the next three years.

Supporting parents : messages from research

Quinton D
London : Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2004.

Early intervention : the essential readings

Feldman M
Malden, MA : Blackwell Pub., 2004.

TRACC Strengthening Families Program.

Smith S
Intensive Family Services 5th National Practice Symposium : In partnership with families - stepping off the roundabout. Rose Bay, NSW : Matrix On Board, 2004: 10p
The family strengthening approach taken by Anglicare Queensland's Strengthening Families Service in delivering support services to parents with an intellectual disability is explored in this paper. The paper first describes the Queensland context, in which the integration of people with disabilities has occurred more recently than in most other states. It then presents two case studies which are used to illustrate: issues common to parents with an intellectual disability; implications for intensive family based services to these parents; ways of exploring strengths and valued social roles; the value of brief interventions for parents with an intellectual disability.

When is it serious enough? The protection of children of parents with a mental health problem, tough decisions and avoiding a 'martyred' child.

Cousins C
Australian e-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health (AeJAMH) 1446-7984 v. 3 no. 2 Aug 2004 8p
This paper outlines some of the very real emotional challenges and decisions faced by mental health workers with clients who, through no fault of their own, are failing to meet the needs of their children. In particular, it focuses on the effects of long term emotional abuse and neglect due to parental mental health issues and includes discussion of some difficult concepts such as 'good enough' parenting, and what constitutes harm. The paper proposes that it is very difficult for adult mental health workers to hold in tension the needs of the adult client and the needs of their children, when sometimes these are at odds with each other. It ultimately argues for a change in service culture where the ethical and moral nature of these decisions is discussed and debated, rather than what could be seen to be an emerging culture of fear, based on recent critical incidents and unwanted media attention.

Understanding and supporting parents with learning difficulties.

Mildon R, Matthews J and Gavidia-Payne S
Carlton, Vic : Victorian Parenting Centre, 2003
Increasing numbers of families in which a parent has a learning disorder are presenting for assistance. The authors present information that can aid in the design and implementation of supports to these parents. They review the current literature and identify factors contributing to an over representation of parents with learning disorders in the child protection system. They define the term learning difficulties, look at assessment assumptions and practices, methods and tools, and consider ways of developing knowledge and skills in parents with learning difficulties. Clinical strategies that have shown promise in assessment and skills development programs are discussed.

The right support: report of the Task Force on Supporting Disabled Adults in their Parenting Role

Morris J
York UK : Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2003.
"While progress has been made in recognising the rights of disabled people to be parents, both parent support services and community care services still fail to address adequately the needs of disabled parents. Set up in 2000, [the Task Force] aimed to highlight and challenge the barriers facing disabled parents."
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