Compromised parenting – resources for practitioners

Compromised Parenting is a term used to describe situations when parents’ capacity to safeguard and appropriately care for their child(ren) is limited, (or compromised), due to the following factors:

Some of the key findings from a Learning from Serious Case Reviews report indicated:

“Substance misuse, domestic violence and parental mental ill health pose significant risks factors for children. Previous reviews have emphasised that it is the combination of these factors which is particularly toxic”. (Brandon, Bailey & Belderson)

Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse is a crime and a major social problem affecting many families. In 90% of reported domestic abuse incidents, children have either been present in the same or a nearby room.

Substance Misuse
The National Treatment Agency for Substance Abuse estimates that around 200,000 adults are currently receiving treatment for substance misuse problems and of these one third are parents who have children living with them.

The Drug and Alcohol Partnership have developed a Joint Working Protocol which seeks to meet the needs of children and young people affected by parental drug/alcohol misuse.

Parental Mental Ill Health
Parental mental illness can significantly impact on family life. All the members of the family are affected if someone in the family has mental illness but research shows that children are especially vulnerable. Where a parent has enduring and / or severe mental ill-health, children in the household are more likely to be at risk of, or experiencing, significant harm.

Parental mental illness does not necessarily have an adverse impact on a child’s developmental needs, but it is essential to always assess its implications for each child in the family.

An Ofsted thematic report What About the Children? explored how well adult mental health services and drug and alcohol services considered the impact on children when their parents or carers had mental ill health and/or drug and alcohol problems; and how effectively adult and children’s services worked together to safeguard children in these circumstances.

The report states that at any one time it is estimated that as many as 9 million adults – 1 in 6 of the population – experience mental ill health. It is estimated that 30% of adults with mental ill health have dependent children.

Local help and support for those affected by:

Domestic Abuse, including a 24 hour Domestic Abuse Helpline
Drugs and alcohol usage
Mental Health concerns

Clare’s Law Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme

Children’s Society: Supporting Children who have a Parent with a Mental Illness Think Family: improving the life chances of families at risk
DfE: Children’s Needs – Parenting Capacity Child abuse: Parental mental illness, learning disability, substance misuse, and domestic violence


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