Evidence in action
Advice Service Capability Scotland: parenting information for disabled parents
Advice Service Capability Scotland is a national provider of disability advice and information, providing a free and confidential service on a range of disability issues.
The About Families topic report, Parenting and Support, highlighted that disabled parents and parents of disabled children often find it difficult to know where to look for parenting information and that other parents are generally key sources of information and advice. Also, health and social service professionals, and voluntary sector organisations, often do not have relevant knowledge or accessible information or advice.
The Advice Team wanted to find out more about the information and support needs of disabled parents in Scotland, and produce a factsheet for local authorities and health practitioners to help them to better support disabled parents, and a factsheet for disabled parents. These factsheets will become one of Capability Scotland’s resources and as such will be regularly reviewed and updated.
About Families and the Advice Service developed research to further explore the views of disabled parents on their experiences of parenting. In January 2013, seven disabled parents took part in in-depth interviews (conducted by Scotinform, a research organisation) to discuss the different stages of parenting and the information/support available at each stage. The Advice Service also used the About Families Parenting and Support report to inform a report for Capability Scotland, which investigated issues around accessible Christmas attractions.
At the time of writing, the delivery of this action plan is in its early stages and will be continued by the Advice Team following the close of the About Families project. Currently, this work shows that there is not much information available for disabled parents, and indicated areas that the Advice Team were previously unaware of (for example, that the NHS was seen by as the main organisation that should provide parenting information to disabled parents).
As well as agreeing to comment on the draft factsheet, the disabled parents who participated in the interviews have agreed to carry out user testing for future factsheets and resources. This will help the Advice Team to accurately reflect the issues and concerns of disabled parents in their publications
Once disseminated, the factsheet is anticipated to generate more enquiries from parents and statutory services and highlight the need for disabled parents to have parenting information and support.
“I found the process very helpful, it showed me that I could turn an idea into a practical task which I could then take forward. [This work] has increased my knowledge of disabled parents’ parenting experiences and informed me about the issues and concerns that disabled parents have.” Lorna Thompson, Advice Service Manager
One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS)
One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) works to ensure that all families, particularly those headed by a lone parent, have the support, information and confidence needed to play a full part in Scotland’s economic and social life. Two OPFS projects have been involved in About Families.
The Supporting Scotland’s Fathers and Their Children Project supports fathers of children experiencing disadvantage, and those who take on a father’s role, in Edinburgh. It offers fathers/male carers 1-to-1 support, personalised advocacy work, general signposting and small group work activities, including a programme of affordable and sustainable Saturday activities.
The About Families topic report, Parenting and Support, highlighted that parents can face practical barriers to accessing parenting support services, such as location. These findings resonated with the fathers taking part in the project, and discussion with one of the dads led to the idea of extending the lone dads’ project to other parts of Edinburgh.
About Families worked with OPFS to develop a drop-in and referral facility for lone dads at The Place2Be, a service based in schools which provides early intervention mental health support. One drop-in service is in development with nine others planned.
The OPFS project will have increased its capacity to include more dads across Edinburgh, and increase referrals through non-traditional routes, i.e. the education sector. The drop-in service means that 1-to-1 support will be available to dads who would not attend a group session. Extending the project to include different communities, including minority ethnic communities, will bring new experiences and ideas to the project.
“It has been really good for the dads to share their ideas and views about how the project can be changed and how the project needed to reach a larger male audience to encourage more lone dads to access the service…[Developing the collaboration with The Place2Be] has made me more conscious that opportunities should be followed up and that we sometimes need to take risks.” Tom Carroll, Dads Worker, One Parent Families Scotland, and Natalie Gibb Place2Be Coordinator
The Edinburgh Lone Fathers Project (or Dad’s Club) provides the opportunity for lone and non-resident fathers and their young children (aged 0-4) to take part in activities and outings on Saturday mornings. It is non-supervised, with the dads support worker on hand to deal with any enquiries or issues. It is a joint venture between One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) and Gilmerton Child and Family Centre, with funding from Sure Start.
The About Families topic report, Parenting and Support, highlighted that fathers can find it difficult to access relevant parenting information in the way they want to. About Families worked with the OPFS dads’ worker to examine the information support currently available to the participating dads and to explore, through a discussion session, what additional information they wanted.
The dads indicated a lack of confidence in their parenting and suggested they would like to attend a parenting education course to address this. With About Families support, the dads’ worker attended the Raising Children with Confidence parenting course offered by City of Edinburgh Council and will develop accredited courses for the dads in the dad’s club.
“I will be able to talk to the dads more confidently about issues including managing their children’s behaviour and child development. The dads in the group have had their views taken on board. They know that they can make a difference to the project and input in to the wider policy arena. Staff recognise the need for the project to constantly adapt to meet the changing needs of the dads. These changes have to be informed by what the dads’ needs are.” Tom Carroll, Dads Worker, One Parent Families Scotland