Measuring parenting capacity for disabled children using a child protection assessment

Susan Flynn - Journal of Social Work



Childhood disability can heighten risk of neglect and abuse and may also impinge upon the parenting task. Even so, a gross deficiency of published literature on social work parenting capacity assessment for disabled children is evident. This paper provides a critical commentary on approaches to assessments of the capacity of parents of disabled children. International review of literature on this subject matter is enacted across three themes.


Themes refer to limitations to the uptake of disability-specific parenting assessment tools, use of existing generic frameworks and supplementation of generic frameworks, respectively. Throughout, a composite conceptual frame is taken up, entailing the conventions of a seminal social model of disability, extended through an affirmative non-tragedy lens. The intention is to contest articulations of disability grounded in tragedy and melancholia, otherwise instantiated by links between disability with child maltreatment in this paper.


Application of insights from this paper within professional social work practice can enhance evidence-informed parenting capacity assessment.