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The Working Together with Parents Network update of the DoH/DfES Good Practice Guidance on working with parents with a learning disability (2007)

For some time now, there has been an urgent need to issue an updated version of the Good Practice Guidance and to press for compliance with its basic principles in order to respect the human rights of parents with learning disabilities and those of their children. It had been hoped that the Department of Health would take forward this work and those discussions continue. In the meantime, the Working Together with Parents Network (WTPN) has produced this basic, interim update.

Why is this update needed?

Over the past few years, the 2007 Good Practice Guidance appears to have fallen into disuse; professionals working with parents with learning disabilities either have not heard of the Guidance, or they fail to apply it.

One reason for this may be that some elements of the Guidance are clearly out of date (references to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, but not the Equality Act 2010; to Working Together 2006, rather than 2015; Primary Care Trusts rather than Clinical Commissioning Groups etc.) although the essential principles contained in the Guidance remain as valid today as they were in 2007.

Another reason may be that the Guidance is not prominently referred to in other relevant guidance e.g. Working Together to Safeguard Children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children (2015).

The purpose of this practice guidance is to:

  • Help services to improve their support for parents with a learning disability and their children;
  • Increase the chances of the children of parents with a learning disability continuing to live with them in a positive and supportive environment that meets the children’s needs.

The guidance is for both adult and children’s services. In particular, it is for commissioners of education, health, and social care services, and for all service providers. A key aspect of good practice is multi-agency working and thus this guidance is concerned with social care, health and education services and with the role of both statutory and independent sector services.