No. 2 January 2004
More about Working with Parents with Cognitive Limitations
Ensuring the safety, permanence,
and well-being of children whose parents have cognitive limitations can
be a real challenge. This is especially true for child welfare workers
unfamiliar with this area of practice. In the face of this challenge,
these workers and their supervisors often wish for practice-relevant information
and training courses on this topic. Sadly, these resources can be hard
Over the years people have developed courses specifically about working
with parents who have cognitive limitations. However, these courses are
not currently offered to North Carolinas child welfare workers.
Practitioners might find portions of existing courses for professionals
working in the fields of developmental disabilities or early intervention
useful, but for various reasons access to these courses can be limited.
If you know where to look,
however, it is possible to find resources on this subject. In fact, child
welfare workers and their agencies owe it to parents with cognitive disabilities
and their children to seek this information out.
If you serve parents with cognitive limitations, visit www.supported-parenting.com.
This site, developed by Tim and Wendy Booth, researchers with the Parents
with Learning Difficulties Research Programme at the University of
Sheffield in England, advocates a principled approach to helping families
headed by parents with developmental disabilities. It also provides a
wealth of information and practical suggestions for child welfare workers
and other helping professionals who serve this population.
Though this site features
many of the Booths excellent articles, of greatest interest to child
welfare workers will be the links to pages about good and bad practice,
key lessons from research, parental competence, and risk and resilience
in children whose parents have cognitive limitations. Supported-parenting.com
also features links to quotations and photo essays by parents that express
the things they value most in their lives.
The following resources are also excellent places to start developing
Sponsored by the Social Work Program at the Metropolitan State College
of Denver, Colorado, this site offers information about Working
with Families with Children/Parents with Development Disabilities,
a training curriculum for child welfare workers and other helping professionals.
For information on acquiring this curriculum, contact Virginia Cruz
For sample handouts, go to <www.developmentaldisability.org/Hand%20Outs.htm>.
- A Fair Chance.
Developed as part of the above-mentioned curriculum, this video takes
you inside the homes and lives of six parents with developmental disabilities.
It focuses on what helps them succeed and which factors seem to contribute
to the placement of their children. A Fair Chance offers
a frank discussion of the prejudices faced by parents with development
disabilities and the support services they have found effective. To
learn more, visit <www.developmentaldisability.org/parents_with
_disabilities.htm>. Cost: $140 (includes shipping and tax). To
order, call 303/556-4464.
- HELP: When the Parent
Has Disabilities (1999). Edited by Stephanie Parks. This is a handbook
professionals can use to help parents with cognitive limitations and
other disabilities promote the healthy development of their children.
It explains, for example, how to teach a mother with mental retardation
a behavioral management program for her child. Cost: $32.95/ea. Visit
- Parents with Special
Needs/Mental Retardation: A Handbook for Early Intervention (1990).
By Marilyn Espe-Sherwindt and colleagues at Project CAPABLE in Cincinnati.
Although written for early interventionists, the practical, family-centered
suggestions in this handbook make it an excellent resource for child
welfare workers. Can be borrowed by North Carolina child welfare workers
through the NC Early Intervention Library (828/432-5267; firstname.lastname@example.org).
To browse library holdings, visit <www.ncei-eclibrary.org>.
- Cultivating Competence:
Directory and Resource Guide on Supported Parenting, 2nd Edition
(2000). Edited by Dolores Ullmer Liamba. Of special interest to child
welfare workers will be the articles Guiding Principles for Supporting
Families Headed by Parents with Cognitive Limitations, Discovering
the Parents Language of Learning, and a list of suggested
readings. Published by the Wisconsin Council on Developmental Disabilities.
Available online <wcdd.org/Publications/cultivating_competence.pdf>.
For a listing of additional
articles and books about working with parents with cognitive limitations,
see the references section of Childrens Services Practice Notes,
v. 9, n. 2 <www.practicenotes.
In Support of MRS
The Multiple Response System,
an effort to make child welfare services in North Carolina more family-centered,
consistent, and effective, is coming your way. MRS, which began in ten
counties in August 2002, expanded to an additional 42 counties this fall.
Today more than half our counties are implementing or getting ready to
implement the seven strategies of MRS. The rest will be on board with
MRS in 2005.
Though it is ultimately rewarding,
making the switch to MRS can be a challenge. Thats why the NC Division
of Social Services is providing the following specialized training to
- MRS Policy Roadshow.
In November, December, and January, representatives from the Division
will hold 23 MRS policy training sessions at 19 locations across North
Carolina. These sessions provide crucial information about MRS, especially
the use of the family assessment response. The Division strives to hold
these events at convenient locations, so agencies will not have to expend
extra resources to attend.
- Cornerstones of Family-Centered
Practice. This multi-course series is designed to provide the information
and skill practice workers and supervisors need to implement MRS. A
key component of this series is Cornerstone 3: Partners in Change,
a New Perspective on CPS, which is open only to child welfare workers
in MRS counties. The supervisory training Cornerstone 2: Whats
Good for Families is Good for Workers, is open to child welfare
and Work First program administrators, program managers, and supervisors
in all 100 counties. Consult the spring 2004 training calendar for training
times and locations (see www.dhhs.state.nc.us/dss/childrensservices/training/index.htm).
Directors, supervisors, and
workers in MRS counties should be on the lookout for information from
the Division about times and locations of MRS-related training. For more
general information about MRS, visit <www.dhhs.state.nc.us/dss/childrensservices/mrs/index.htm>.
© 2004 Jordan Institute for