Exploring the long-term outcomes of vulnerable parents with and without a learning disability using interview methodology

Sharon A. McGregor, Dominic Jarrett, Ailsa Stewart, Ann Cathro, Janey Smith, Nicky Jennkins, Michelle McInroy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Families including a parent or parents with a learning disability can often have complex needs linked to issues such as poverty and mental health, and are known to be over-represented in child care proceedings, with estimates that 40%-60% of such parents have their children removed from them. Previous local project work with 12 families had demonstrated the potential of providing intensive packages of support to parents with a learning disability, as well as others without a learning disability who were vulnerable for other reasons. A follow-up project 16 years later sought to re-engage with those 12 families in order to explore their outcomes. Parents, children, and three key professionals involved in the support of each family were to be interviewed; however, following recruitment issues, only parents from three of the original families participated, with parents from two additional families being recruited to provide additional perspective. Interviews with the parents and 11 professionals affirmed much that is familiar from the existing literature, including services being slow to offer support, but at times quick to judge. However, very positive experiences were described of professionals acting flexibly in an ideal realization of their role (e.g., long-term involvement from a general practitioner with a whole family; hands-on, respectful support from a Social Worker), as well as the love for their children evidenced by the parents interviewed. Individual interviews were resource-intensive and a challenge to set up, but proved an ideal means of glimpsing the complexity of family life for the parents involved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSAGE Research Methods Cases
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • parenting
  • learning disabilities
  • parents
  • patenting support


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