Parents with disabilities and child abuse and neglect

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See more resources on Parents with disabilities and child abuse and neglect in the AIFS library catalogue

Benefits and limits of peer support for mothers with intellectual disability affected by domestic violence and child protection.

Collings S, Strnadova I, Loblinzk J and Danker J
Disability and Society v. 35 no. 3 2020: 413-434
Peer support can help many vulnerable and isolated families engage with social services and the child protection system - what about patents with intellectual disability? This article explores these parents' experiences of peer support, based on interviews with 26 parents with intellectual disability. In particular, it focuses on one group of the parents who had also experienced domestic and family violence, concerning coping with adversity.

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.

Midterm evaluation of Independent Family Advocacy and Support (IFAS) pilot service: midterm report

Maylea C, Thomas S, Bashfield L, Kuyini B, Costello S and Singh M
Melbourne, Vic. : Victoria Legal Aid, 2020.
The Independent Family Advocacy and Support (IFAS) service in Victoria aims to provide non-legal advocacy and support to parents and primary carers who are involved in the early stages of the child protection system. It aims to divert families away from the child protection system and increase access to legal services, in particular for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and families where one or both of the parents has an intellectual disability. It is being piloted by Victoria Legal Aid in the regional city of Bendigo and the metropolitan area of Darebin/Moreland. This report presents the findings from the midterm review. It draws on administrative data and interviews and focus groups with clients, staff and professional stakeholders. Overall, the pilot has been very successful so far: clients valued the service highly and there has been a positive return on investment. The report concludes with recommendations to improve the service.

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.

Intersectional disadvantage : exploring differences between Aboriginal and non-aboriginal parents with intellectual disability in the New South Wales child protection system.

Collings S, Dew A, Spencer M and Dowse L
Journal of Public Child Welfare v. 12 no. 2 2018: 170-189
Parents with either an intellectual disability or Indigenous background are overrepresented in the child protection system, but what about parents who face both risk factors? This article reviews the case files of 45 parents with intellectual disability involved with the New South Wales child protection system, comparing the personal and case characteristics of the 14 Aboriginal and 31 non-Aboriginal parents. The findings of this small study show that Aboriginal parents are significantly younger, more likely to be investigated over concerns about parenting capacity, and more likely to have children removed than non-Aboriginal parents are. The findings have implications for child welfare practice.

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.

Parents with intellectual disability in a population context.

Llewellyn G and Hindmarsh G
Current Developmental Disorders Reports v. 2 2015: 119-126
Over the last decade, researchers in Australia and overseas have begun to employ secondary analysis of larger scale datasets to learn more about parents with intellectual disability, comparing these parents to the broader population rather than focusing on clinical or service-based samples. This article looks at the contribution of these findings to the evidence base. Topics include pregnancy and birth outcomes, health status and behaviours, child developmental outcomes, and child protection. The article concludes by highlighting the advantages of this research approach to the evidence.

Maternal mental health and risk of child protection involvement : mental health diagnoses associated with increased risk.

O'Donnell M, Maclean M, Sims S, Morgan V, Leonard H and Stanley F
Journal of Epidemiology of Community Health v. 69 no. 12 Dec 2015: 1175-1183
This article adds to what is known about mental illness in mothers as a risk factor for child maltreatment. Using population-level data for children born in Western Australia between 1990 and 2005, it quantifies the relationship between different categories of mental illness and child maltreatment allegations and substantiations. Almost half the children with a maltreatment allegation in this cohort had a mother with a mental health contact, in particular mothers with an intellectual disability.

Rebuilding the village - supporting families where a parent has a disability: Report 2, Child protection

Carter B
Carlton, Vic. : Office of the Public Advocate, 2015.
This is the second report of the Victorian Public Advocate concerning families where the parent has a disability. The first report, from 2013, entitled 'Whatever happened to the village?: the removal of children from parents with a disability', explored issues relating to the Australian family law system. This second report examines issues within the child protection system in Victoria and makes recommendations for reform. It discusses data collection, pre-birth notifications, changes in Victorian child protection since 2000, risk assessment and best interests, contact and access between families and children, sibling separation, case management, guardianship and parental responsibility, family violence, power imbalance, stigmatisation, Children's Court processes, and "too much assessment, not enough support."

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.

Whatever happened to the village? - the removal of children from parents with a disability: Report 1, Family law - the hidden issues

Carter B
Melbourne, Vic. : Office of the Public Advocate, 2013.
As a signatory to both the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (CRC), Australia has a duty to support the rights of parents with a disability to raise their children. This paper reviews issues in Australian family law and child protection policy that conflict with these duties and rights and sets out recommendations for reform.

Children of parents with intellectual disability : facing poor outcomes or faring okay?

Collings S and Llewellyn G
Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability 469-9532v. 37 no. 1 2012: 65-82
This article presents a review of the literature on the child development and outcomes of children of parents with intellectual disability. However, the review finds little consensus across the available research. Most of the studies focus on children from clinical populations or other high-risk groups or families with significant disadvantage. Though the studies vary on the developmental and behavioural outcomes of children with parents with intellectual disability, qualitative research highlights that these children can face social exclusion, bullying, and stigma, as well as removal from parental care.

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.

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.

Women with cognitive impairment and unplanned or unwanted pregnancy : a 2-year audit of women contacting the Pregnancy Advisory Service

Australian Social Work 0312-407X (print) 1447-0748 (online) v. 63 no. 1 Mar 2010: 18-34
Burgen, Brenda
This study aimed to learn more about the experience of women with cognitive impairments and unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. An audit was conducted of 2 years' of records from the Pregnancy Advisory Service at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria. Record for 20 women with cognitive impairments, who had contacted PAS for support with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, were identified, revealing issues of significant barriers to reproductive choices, including needing help to contact support services, seeking help significantly late in their pregnancy, and current involvement with child protection services. The findings for proactive social work and support are discussed.

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.

Parental intellectual disability and child protection : key issues

Lamont A and Bromfield L
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2009.
A high proportion of families with a parent with an intellectual disability will come to the attention of child protection and support agencies due to allegations that a child has been or is at risk of abuse or neglect. However, prejudice and lack of understanding have contributed to these heightened rates. In this paper, the authors examine parental intellectual disability and the common risk factors associated with child abuse and neglect to understand if and why parents with intellectual disability are at heightened risk of abusing or neglecting their children.

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.

The Children's Court and child and youth poverty.

Hansen P
In: CROCCS International Conference, 'Overcoming violence and poverty', August 2007. Mackay, Qld: Mackay Centre for Research on Community and Children's Services, 2007, 28p, Online (MS PowerPoint 142KB)
This paper reports on the early stages of a study in three states (NSW, QLD and WA) that aims to develop a demographic profile of parents involved in Children's Court proceedings. Of special interest is their economic and social status especially in regard to intellectual disability and/or mental health factors and how these factors influence court decision making. The study is supported by a network of social workers, lawyers and others who seek to examine Children's Court decision making in child protection cases and the orders that place children in long term state care. The named study team have a preliminary encouragement grant from the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY).

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the need for its incorporation into a Bill of Rights.

Nicholson A
Family Court Review v. 44 no. 1 Jan 2006 5-30
Australia increasingly stands alone in not providing any of its citizens with the protection of a Bill of Rights. In this article, the author demonstrates that Australians need the protection of a Bill of Rights. He focuses particularly on the absence of a Bill of Rights protecting children in Australia. The author also discusses judicial approaches to international law and compares the situation in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. He suggests that even in those countries that do have a Bill of Rights, it is not oriented toward children, and therefore does not properly recognise their rights.

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.

Mothering capacity and social milieu.

Llewellyn G
In: Esdaile, Susan A. and Olson, Judith A. eds. Mothering occupations: challenge, agency, and participation. Philadelphia, PA USA: F A Davis, 2004, p174-192, tables
Mothering is a learned occupation, a function of the social milieu in which it occurs, this chapter argues. The chapter discusses: factors involved with mothering capacity; child protection practice; decisions made in child protection processes; and mothers with intellectual disability learning mothering. The chapter presents three case studies to illustrate the diversity of mothers' social environments. It then discusses research findings that demonstrate how mothering occupations are influenced by, and influence, mothers' social milieu. The studies focus on mothers with intellectual disability who live alone with their children in the community, mothers living in a parent or parent figure's household, and mothers living with partners.

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.

Parental drug use: the bigger picture: a review of the literature.

Patton N
St Kilda South, Vic : Mirabel Foundation, 2003
This report collates the current literature on children and families who have experienced parental illicit drug use. The author discusses the effects of prenatal exposure to illicit drug use on physical development, cognitive development and psychosocial development, and the effects of environmental factors at the same stages of development. She discusses child protection intervention, family preservation and the rights of the child. She also examines the commonalities between children affected by parental illicit drug use and other minority groups of children in the community, such as those whose parents have a disability or mental health issues.
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