Iain Gray MSP has hosted a reception at the Scottish Parliament to promote a campaign to support parents with learning disabilities and help end stigma towards them.
Leading charities, including Aberlour, Parenting Across Scotland and the Scottish Commission for Learning Disabilities (SCLD) have said that support is needed instead of judgement, as they highlighted the No Place Like Home campaign.
The charities have said there needs to be a focus on what parents with learning disabilities can do, rather than what they cannot. According to recent research, parents with learning disabilities are twenty times more likely to have their child removed from them and placed into care.
In a bid to address this, Aberlour, the Scottish children’s charity, held the parliamentary reception as part of its No Place Like Home campaign, during which parents who had first-hand experience of such trauma inflicted on their families spoke about their ordeal.
Iain Gray MSP said:
“I welcome the No Place Like Home campaign’s aim of ensuring that service provision for parents with a learning disability is widely available throughout Scotland.
“The research on the experience of parents with learning disabilities is shocking and should be a wake-up call to decision-makers everywhere in Scotland.
“The reception highlighted the important role that the voluntary sector can play in providing this support but we know the resources available to charities are severely stretched.
“We have a duty to ensure that these parents receive the help and support they need to reduce the chances of children being taken into care, and that must include finding the resources to fund local services.”
SallyAnn Kelly, chief executive of Aberlour, said:
“We still have a journey to travel. The third sector and Aberlour continue to provide early intervention and prevention services for families but on a shoestring.
“These services provide substantial savings to local authorities but we still cannot shift their expenditure from intensive support upstream to instead supporting families earlier – we absolutely need to nail that as a nation.
“We believe it’s in the interests of children to remain with their families, and for the vast majority of families that is the case.”
Charlie McMillan, chief executive of SCLD, said:
“To say that someone’s future is already ancient history is not acceptable. Too many parents in Scotland with learning disabilities feel that their future is already ancient history and we have to change that.”