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Issues Affecting Parental Capacity


A proportion of adults known to the mental health, substance misuse, physical / sensory and learning disability services have children. In common with the population as a whole, most of these parents are committed to their children and want what is best for them. The presence of additional vulnerabilities for adults as parents/carers does not automatically preclude the possibility of good parenting.

It is important, therefore, that when a practitioner is working with an individual within a family, child or adult, they need to take a holistic approach. This considers the individual as a member of the family who will be affected by their behaviours and who, in turn, will have an impact on each family member. These impacts may be positive and supportive or may be negative. When considering any vulnerabilities or risks that they have identified practitioners should consider the support available to the individual and family from extended family, the wider community and other professionals.

A multi-agency protocol has been written for every person, staff or volunteers, working with people whose complex problems might impact on their ability to care for children and for those working with children whose parents or carers have those complex problems.  It gives information about research and guidance for good practice.

Help and Support

HIPS Procedures for Parents who have Additional Needs

NSPCC: Parental mental health: how to help children living with parents with mental health problems

NSPCC: Parental substance misuse: how to support children living with parents who misuse alcohol and drugs