Person to Person Parent Advocacy

An increasing number of adults with learning disabilities are becoming parents. A report carried out by the Norah Fry Research Centre ('Finding the Right Support', 2006) with regard to parents who have learning disabilities states that "In about 50% of cases their children are removed from them, usually as a result of concerns for their well-being and/or an absence of appropriate support".

An article in the Learning Disability Review (April 2007) entitled 'Sinking or Swimming? Supporting Parents with Learning Disabilities and their Children' states that "advocates, whether paid or voluntary, can play a critical role in supporting parents with learning disabilities, particularly when they are involved with the child protection or court systems".

Person to Person Citizen Advocacy undertook an exploratory project that highlighted that parents with learning disabilities can often be "good enough" parents when provided with the ongoing emotional and practical support they need. Whilst we are fully aware of child protection issues and the needs of the child being paramount, decisions on the parenting skills or otherwise of people with a learning disability are often made without the parents, or would be parents, having recourse to any independent support or advocacy to help them put forward their case. There is often an assumption that people will not be able to cope and decisions are made on this premise alone instead of considering what support mechanisms might be needed for 'successful' parenting.

As a result of our findings we applied to the BIG Lottery for 'People and Places' funding so that we could employ two Parent Advocates to work with parents and prospective parents living in Caerphilly and Bridgend. In 2011 we were notified that our application had been successful and that our project would receive funding for 3 years to offer information, support and advocacy to parents with learning disabilities.