What happens if you have a condition or impairment and can’t care for your children?

Often there are a number of options including:

  • A spouse is available to help;
  • A family member will provide support;
  • Friends will rally around;
  • External support can be brought in.

But what happens in those options are not available, or if your condition/s or disability means that you need longer-term support?

Many people fear to approach the local authority for support. The main worry that we hear of is that once it is acknowledged that you ‘can’t cope’ or you are ‘struggling’, your children will be taken away of you as you will be perceived as an unfit parent.

Parents with learning disabilities can sometimes access support from the adult learning disability teams if they meet the necessary criteria, but what if other support is required?

There is a statutory duty under s9 of the Child Act 2014 for assessment of an adult’s needs for care and support; this assessment must include an assessment of the outcomes that the adult wishes to achieve in day-to-day life, for example, parenting their child/ren.

Whilst it will not always be possible, or in the best interests of the child/ren to implement support to the extent that people require, it is worth keeping this piece of legislation in mind, as the duty is that “where it appears to a local authority that an adult may have needs for care and support, the authority must assess:

  1. Whether the adult does have needs for care and support; and
  2. If the adult does, what those needs are.”

This is particularly important to keep in mind if the local authority or any other agency has expressed concern about a parents’ ability to care for their child.