Podcast – working with parents

Parents with learning difficulties and disabilities face multiple challenges. They are also more likely to have their children removed. 

We wanted to understand why this is and what can be done to support them before, during and after a family residential assessment and share this information with other professionals 

There have been improvements to how parents with learning difficulties and disabilities are treated but sadly this can fall still short. Our teams work hard to make sure parents get the support they need while staying with us, but we want all professionals to know what support there is, highlight good practice and share some of the great community-based services. 

In this mini-podcast series, we interview a  range of experts about the challenges parents with learning difficulties face, how we can support them and their rights as parents. 

Episode 1 – When Love is not enough

Hannah Sweet works at St Michael’s in our residential assessment centre that specialises in working with parents with learning difficulties; tell us how she builds trust with the parents, how we provide support for parents and the difficulties in finding support services in the community.


Episode 2 – Too scared to ask for help

Gillian McIntyre is a senior lecturer at Strathclyde University who specialises in researching parents with learning difficulties. We asked her if there had been an increase in parents with learning difficulties? Why their children are more likely to be removed? Whether this is justified and what advice she has for social workers working with parents with learning difficulties.


Episode 3 – Can they do it

Sue McGaw is the pioneer and creator of the Parenting Assessment Manual (PAMS). As a newly qualified clinical psychologist in 1988, she realised there was a gap in how professionals were trying to assess and support parents with learning difficulties.

In this episode, we hear about how her early work and how the techniques she used led to a decision to keep a family together, even though they had had previous children taken into care. Sue also talks about the impact of covid and why it is still an important tool.


Episode 4 –  Respecting their rights as parents

Nadine Tilbury is the policy officer from the Working Together with Parents Network. She is a former lawyer with a background in child protection; she now works to ensure parents with learning difficulties are treated fairly. In this interview, she tells us what the network has been working on, innovative services and explains the rights of parents.

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Podcast Mini-series on parents with learning disabilities



Professionals can refer parents into all our services.


Parents can sign-up themselves for our outreach young parents support or Caring Dads programmes.

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