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Parents with learning disabilities in Wales 'set up to fail', says charity

Parents with learning disabilities in Wales 'set up to fail', says charity



Vulnerable parents with slotxo learning disabilities are "set up to fail" and risk losing their children from a lack of support, according to a charity.

Learning Disability Wales warned the pandemic had reduced opportunities to learn vital parenting skills, which it said could see many children unnecessarily taken into care.

There is currently no guidance to help vulnerable parents in Wales.

The Welsh government said it will publish guidance in the autumn.

Samantha Williams, policy and communications manager at Learning Disability Wales, said support for parents with learning disabilities was poor, with a lack of training for social workers.

She said vulnerable families not only needed access to parenting courses, but also enough time to learn under supervision, as they might take longer to acquire new skills and have difficulties in retaining them.

However she said "the clock is always ticking" for parents, who soon felt the odds were stacked against them.

"There is a timetable of 26 weeks for care proceedings... an incredibly short period of time for a parent with a learning disability to be able to learn all the necessary skills and demonstrate significant change in their parenting abilities in order to be able to keep their children," said Ms Williams.

"This timetable can in fact be extended in certain circumstances if the court is convinced that it is necessary but in reality this rarely happens."

Ruth Northway, professor of learning disability nursing at the University of South Wales, said the Covid-19 pandemic had had a significant impact on people with learning disabilities.

She said it had "both highlighted and increased many of the inequalities they experienced pre-pandemic", such as healthcare and social isolation.

"There are models of good support for parents with learning disabilities but unfortunately these are not universally available," said Prof Northway.

"Such support needs to be tailored to the needs of individual families and to take account of the wide range of factors that can impact on parenting such as poverty, housing, access to social networks, access to information and discrimination.

"It may also be required in an ongoing basis and/or at various points during the family life cycle when new challenges occur, for example, a child starting school."

Wales currently has the highest proportion in the UK of children being looked after away from home.

Centre for Community Journalism