Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

People with learning disabilities can be “great parents” says Mencap after Munby judgement

Mencap logoMencap has expressed its concern that children are being taken away from parents on the grounds of learning disability.

The learning disability charity made the statement in the wake of the ruling last week by Judge Sir James Munby that an edited version of a secret video recorded by a couple when their six-hour-old child was taken away by Staffordshire police and social workers could be viewed by the public.

The child, known only as J, was removed by social workers because they decided their mother was incapable of bringing him up because of her learning disability, according to the parents.

But, as a statement from Staffordshire County Council noted, Judge Munby did not dispute the decision to take the child into care. “Staffordshire County Council will only take a child into care as an absolute last resort, and to protect the safety and wellbeing of that child. We have to obtain a Care Order from the courts to enable us to do that,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Mencap has reiterated that people with learning disabilities can make good parents. A statement said: “We know lots of people with learning disabilities who, with the right support, are great parents. Mencap agrees that capability and capacity need to be assessed, but social workers must be trained to understand the needs of parents with a learning disability first.

Ciara Lawrence, campaigns spokesperson from Mencap, added: “As a woman with a learning disability, I am disappointed that the social workers didn’t try harder to support the parents in the right way instead of removing their children. I know parents who have learning disabilities and they are great parents; with the right support they have been able to bring up their children. I am working on a project with parents with a learning disability to give them that support and advice they need to be the best parents they can be.”

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