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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/practice-tools/the-tuituia-framework-and-tools/the-tuituia-framework-and-domains/safe-parenting-factors-tuituia-subdomain/
Printed: 22/10/2019
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Last updated: 01/04/2019

Safe parenting factors — Tuituia subdomain

This domain explores factors known to impact on parent or caregiver’s capacity to provide safe care and attend to the needs of children in their care.

Subdomain: Mental health

There are many factors involved in the relationship between parental mental health and the well-being of children. While parental mental illness can be a risk factor, mokopuna become most vulnerable when the parental mental illness coexists with other concerns such as domestic violence, childhood abuse, substance use. Mokopuna whose parents have a mental health disorder are at higher risk of developing a mental disorder.

Parents/caregivers who are unwell may at times have problems caring for mokopuna:

  • they may be preoccupied or lack the energy to provide for their basic needs
  • they may be unpredictable in their interactions with mokopuna
  • repeated hospitalisations may create disruptions to family life
  • the family may become isolated
  • they may be anxious about granting independence to mokopuna, or be unable to extend the range of experiences mokopuna have because of their own anxieties.

Some mental health problems may be inherited and passed between parent and child; however the process as to how and when this happens is still being understood.

Assessment prompts

  • Do the parent/s or caregiver/s have a current or history of mental health illness?
    • what is the nature of that mental health illness?
    • how does the illness manifest itself?
    • has there been formal diagnosis?
  • What is the care/treatment/support services the parent/s or caregiver/s is receiving and how effective are these?
  • How do the mental health difficulties impact on the parent/s, caregiver/s cognitive state, judgments and emotional availability to meet mokopuna needs?
    • do they have distorted perceptions of the mokopuna?
    • do they withdraw from their Kaitiaki responsibilities?
    • do they become erratic or errational or act in ways that frightens mokopuna?
  • What are the expectations and responsibilities on mokopuna as a result of the difficulties? — e.g. are they taking on a caregiving role within the family for extended periods or above a level expected for their age and beyond cultural expectations?
  • What additional resources and networks are accessed to assist in meeting the needs of the mokopuna?

Screening questions for depression

  • During the past month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
  • During the past month, have you often been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing things?

If yes, ask if they would like help with this.

Screening question for anxiety

  • During the past month have you been worrying a lot about everyday problems?

If yes, ask if they would like help with this.

Descriptors: mental health

10 — No mental health concerns or mental health concerns are managed and have no impact on caregiver's ability to interact warmly and predictably, problem solve, deal with stress, care for self and meet the wellbeing needs of the child or young person in their care.

5 — Mental health problems are improving/stabilised but continue to impact on ability to interact warmly and predictably, problem solve, deal with stress, care for self and meet the wellbeing needs of the child or young person in their care.

1 — Chronic and/or severe mental health disorder impacts daily on their ability to interact warmly and predictably, problem solve, deal with stress, care for self and meet the wellbeing needs of the child or young person in their care.

Subdomain: Intellectual functioning

Intellectual disability per se is a poor indicator of risk for abuse and neglect. Each case must be assessed individually with consideration for the risk and the protective factors (Lamont, A., & Bromfield, L. (2009). There are a range of factors that raise the degree of risk to mokopuna e.g. sole parenting, both parents being intellectually disabled, parental disharmony, co-existence of mental health or drug and alcohol issues, physical health problems and a history of parental abuse or neglect of mokopuna.

Research has shown that when support and education is matched to their learning needs, parents with learning difficulties can learn, retain, and use appropriate parenting skills (Healthy Start, Practice Point: Child Protection).

It is important to remember that the majority of mokopuna born to intellectually disabled parents are not disabled themselves. However, these mokopuna may have difficulties in social adjustment and problem behaviour, especially in adolescence.

Throughout the assessment process it is critical to ensure family/whānau have a good level of understanding of questions being asked of them, that they are clear about the purpose of the questioning and that communication is encouraged and facilitated in whatever form is required.

Assessment prompts

  • Do the parents/caregivers have any intellectual or learning disabilities that affect their ability to provide care of the mokopuna?
  • If there is an intellectual or learning difficulty how is it characterised:
    • intellectual functioning — ability to reason, understand and problem solve
    • social skills — social problem solving, ability to follow rules, interpersonal skills
    • practical skills — personal care, routines, house-keeping, use of money?
  • Are there other factors that add stress to the family — poverty, family violence, substance abuse, parental history of abuse or poor parenting?
  • What does the family’s support network look like — does it adequately meet the needs of mokopuna now and in the future?
  • What strengths do this parent and their family have — what are their abilities?

Descriptors: intellectual functioning

10 — No concerns regarding intellectual functioning or adequate supports are in place to meet the child or young person’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs now and into the future.

5 — Support is in place to enable safe care of the child or young person in their care, but it is not consistent or sustainable over time.

1 — Enduring diagnosed intellectual disability impacts daily on their ability to interact warmly and predictably, problem solve, deal with stress, care for self and meet the wellbeing needs of the child or young person in their care.

Subdomain: Substance abuse

Substance use becomes a concern when the functioning of one or both of the parents/caregivers is so impaired that they are unable to adequately care for their mokopuna. The problems that occur in this context range from occasional instances when caregivers are unable to attend to their children or young people as a consequence of alcohol abuse, to the chronic drug-seeking behaviour of the heavily addicted person whose care giving responsibilities are secondary to their need to acquire the appropriate substance.

Assessment prompts

  • Do the parent/s or caregiver/s have a current and or history of drug and alcohol use — type, frequency and quantity of alcohol/drug use, association with criminal activity? is there a diagnosed dependency?
  • How does their substance use impact their ability to parent?
  • To what extent do they put the needs of the mokopuna above their need to secure the substance?
  • What treatment/rehabilitation/support are they receiving now or have received in the past?
  • How have they demonstrated their willingness and/or ability to remain engaged with services?
  • How effective are any services being delivered?

Screening questions

  • Have you used drugs or drink more than you meant to in the last year?
  • Have you felt that you wanted to cut down on your drinking or drug use in the past year?

If yes, ask if they would like help with this.

Descriptors: substance abuse

10 — There is no drug and alcohol use OR their use of alcohol and drugs does not impact on their ability to meet the wellbeing needs of the child or young person in their care. They promote positive messages about safe use of drugs and alcohol and/or actively support the reduction of substance use by the child or young person in their care.

5 — Recognises own substance abuse is harmful and is engaged in services but is inconsistent in maintaining abstinence or low use. Recognises the impact of their substance abuse on their ability to provide warm, predictable care and on the attitude and behaviour of the child or young person in their care.

1 — Substance abuse impacts daily on their ability to interact warmly and predictably, problem solve, deal with stress, care for self and meet the wellbeing needs of the child or young person in their care.

Subdomain: Physical health

Assessment prompts

  • Do the parent/s or caregiver/s have a current or history of physical health problem or disability?
  • What is the nature of that condition?
    • how does the condition manifest itself?
    • has there been formal diagnosis?
  • How do conditions/disabilities impact on their capacity to meet mokopuna needs?
  • What are the expectations and responsibilities on mokopuna as a result of the difficulties? — e.g. are they taking on a caregiving role within the family for extended periods or above a level expected for their age and beyond cultural expectations?
  • What is the care/treatment/support services the parent/s or caregiver/s is receiving and how effective are these?
  • What additional resources and networks are accessed to assist in meeting the needs of mokopuna?

Descriptors: physical health

10 — No physical health concerns or disability or the condition or disability has any negative impact on the child or young person in their care, or adequate supports are in place that enables safe and sustainable care.

5 — Physical health condition or disability has some impact on ability to care for self and meet the wellbeing needs of the child or young person in their care. Receives support but this is inconsistent and not sustainable over time.

1 — There is a physical health condition or disability that impacts daily on their ability to care for self and meet the wellbeing needs of the child or young person in their care.

Subdomain: Offending

Many studies have shown evidence for intergenerational transmission of criminal behaviour: children whose parents exhibit criminal behaviour have a higher risk of becoming criminal themselves. Criminal parents are among the strongest family factors predicting offending (Besemer, S. 2012).

It is not known how much the transmission of a criminogenic environment influences mokopuna and how much is due to the mediation of other risk factors present in the lives of mokopuna but it’s clear there is a relationship between parents behaviour and the increased risk of mokopuna offending. Caregivers who have a history of violence against another adult have the potential to behave in a similar manner against their own child.

Children with a parent in prison are approximately 5 times more likely to be imprisoned than children of never imprisoned parents (Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (June 2015, p4).

Assessment prompts

  • Is there current of a history of offending for the parents and/or caregivers?
    • nature, context, frequency and severity of offences
  • How does offending impact on their capacity to parent safely?
    • level at which they are to meet mokopuna needs — predictable and consistent caring
    • disrupted care and other impacts of periods of incarceration
    • is the mokopuna involved in offending activities?
    • is the parent/caregiver aware or concerned about danger their offending presents to the wellbeing of mokopuna?
  • How have they evidenced change?
    • what is different in their life now compared to when the offending occurred?
    • what support have they accessed?

Descriptors: offending

10 — No history of offending.

5 — Some current offending but this presents minimal risk to the wellbeing of the child or young person. Some past offending but has made substantial changes and offending no longer features in their life.

1 — Extensive offending over a long period of time.

Subdomain: Personal resilience

Assessment prompts

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your goals/dreams for yourself or your children/family?
  • What are you doing to achieve those goals?
  • What helps you cope with everyday life?
  • How did your parents cope with stress and what did you learn from that?
  • When you are under stress what is most helpful for you?
  • Describe a time when you coped well in a stressful situation with your child? What did you learn? What skills did you develop?
  • How are you able to meet your children’s needs when you are dealing with stress?

Descriptors: personal resilience

10 — Recognises, believes in and uses own strengths to bring about change. Sets goals and is able to work towards achieving them. Has a philosophy that guides action and makes sense of life. Is helpful and hopeful, has trust and faith in others. Possesses a range of effective problem solving skills and uses a variety of healthy ways to deal with stress.

5 — Confidence in their ability to manage stress and bring about change is increasing. There is evidence that they manage stressful situations appropriately but this is inconsistent.

1 — Does not recognise or believe in own strengths or ability to bring about change. Unable to set and achieve goals. Has no hope/positive outlook/ability to see the positive side, does not trust or have faith in others. Uses predominantly unsafe and risky mechanisms to deal with stress or refuses/avoids dealing with problems.