2004 Jordan Institute
9, No. 2
A Lack of Appropriate Services
In many cases, parents with cognitive limitations can successfully raise their children if they receive supportive services appropriate to their needs, such as specialized parenting classes and in-home assistance with daily tasks.
Unfortunately, in many places these services are not available. For every place that manages to develop programs like Families on the Grow at Wake County Human Services there are dozens more that offer the same parenting classes to all parents, regardless of their individual needs.
Practitioners say parents with developmental delays sometimes make it in these classes, in the sense that they can fulfill the attendance requirements and verbally repeat what they are taught. But ultimately they fail, since they cannot demonstrate the parenting skills in question because they are not taught in a way that enables them to learn. As a result, these parents often lose their children.
One worker sums it up: These parents want help. They try. They really, really love their kids. But they cant learn, and there are no services. It breaks your heart.
Child welfare workers owe it to these parents and their children to reach out to community partners to develop the resources these families need. Gaye Styron, CPS Treatment Program Manager with Wake County Human Services, suggests your local community colleges compensatory education program might be a good place to start. These programs, which serve adults with developmental delays, may be able to set up programs for child welfare-involved parents, or engage them in existing Comp Ed programs.
In the context of North Carolina's Multiple Response System, which asks child welfare agencies to join continually with others to support families and keep children safe, this kind of collaboration makes perfect sense.