DPN Closure

dpn buttonFor 15 years, Disabled Parents Network (DPN) has supported disabled people who are or aspire to be parents, their families, friends and those working with them. For the past 18 months we have faced extremely difficult financial circumstances, which mean that as of now, we have ceased all operational activity.

During the past 15 years, with the invaluable support of our staff and volunteers:

Our Support Service has provided many disabled parent, prospective parent, families’ access information, advice and support enabling them to access services, equipment and their community. Families have been able to successfully challenge school admissions where a family described the support we provided ‘intrinsic to our success’ and access social care support. Sadly we were unable to support the many international enquiries we received where knowledge of their systems was required.

Our Forum, innovative when set up, provided families with an opportunity to families to access peer support, share experiences and form connections and friendships and our Facebook provided similar opportunities with the expansion of social media.

Demand for our Information Handbooks has been high, parents and those working with them, including requests from overseas, as they have given families much needed information on accessing services.

Our Advocacy Service has made a huge difference to the lives of those it supported and raised awareness within local authorities of the issues disabled parent families faced, influencing changes in some.

We have facilitated the participation of families in consultations, research, media projects and other activities. Assisted many students and researchers with assignments and research.

We have influenced policy and practice including the Maternity Services Review in 2007 and as a member of the NYCC (National Young Carer Coalition) The Children and Families Act 2014 and the Care Act 2014 under which holistic family assessments should be undertaken and there should be better communication between adult and children’s services.

We have delivered training to many professionals and students in health, social care, education and other statutory, voluntary and private sector organisations and believe we have raised awareness of disabled parent families.

Our thanks and appreciation to everyone who contributed to our work over the years.

Parenting Differently

Written by Louise Milicevic
My husband and I have Cerebral Palsy and my first pregnancy came as a bit of a surprise, though we were both ecstatic and the news was greeted enthusiastically by family and friends. Sadly, the fact that a disabled couple were having a baby was met with incredulity and shock by the Disability and Maternity Services here in Ireland. We were made to feel that we were the only disabled people in the country about to become parents.

A disabled parent helped me put things into perspective and gave me some renewed belief in my ability. She taught me techniques to lift, change, carry and feed the baby. A physiotherapist in the Maternity Hospital also helped us find suitable ways to handle the baby.

Since my daughters birth I have been contacted by other expectant disabled parents facing the same negative attitudes by healthcare professionals. Based on my experience there appears to be an automatic assumption that a disabled couple will not be capable of looking after and adequately parenting a child.

Being a parent is not an easy task and dealing with physical and attitudinal barriers can make it even harder. However, it’s a decision I don’t regret and believe that the right to have a family should be enjoyed by everyone including disabled people, with access to appropriate support and services. In my view the provision of a PA and the whole philosophy of independent living is about giving people with disabilities the power to make choices in their own lives and should they need support to fulfil their role as parents this should be permissible under the remit of the service.

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