Enhancing Parental Capacity: Building Positive Childhoods

This event will explore how practitioners can identify and support parents who are struggling and in doing so help ensure that all children have the best start in life.

The context

Research shows that children’s development can be affected by their socio-economic circumstances, the emotional climate within the home - including the quality of relationships - the supports available to a family and by the health and wellbeing of the child’s parents. It is therefore essential that parents who are struggling are identified early and appropriate action is taken to help them and their families.

The possible solutions will be different for each family and there are no easy answers. Ultimately those working with families must base their decisions and interventions on the wellbeing of the child.

This event will explore the factors which may affect a parent’s capacity and consider how we can assess their ability to change in order to aid decision-making around the best interests of the child. We will also look at the many ways services can support parent(s) and help them provide the loving home that all children are entitled to.

Key issues to be addressed

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): what are they and why do they matter?
  • The impact of parental mental health and how we can support the families affected
  • How do we assess a parent’s capacity to change and how can our findings help identify the most appropriate approach to supporting them?
  • Services working in partnership to tackle the range of issues that may be affecting parental capacity


09:15    Registration and Refreshments

09:55 Session 1: Enhancing Parental Capacity: Making a Difference to Scotland’s Families

Children’s long-term wellbeing can be affected when their families face adversity, but when their parents are offered appropriate and timely support their prospects can improve. In this opening session we will consider some of the challenges families can face and hear from parents themselves how they want to be supported.

09:55    Introduction from the Chair

Kate Connor, Kate Connor Consultancy

10:00   Adverse Childhood Experiences – What Does It Mean for Enhancing Parental Capacity?

  • Overview of ACE research
  • Polishing the diamonds – proposed action for Scotland
  • How can the ACE research inform support for parents, families and children?

Katy Hetherington, Organisational Lead - Child and Adolescent Public Health, NHS Health Scotland

10:20    Maternal Mental Illness - Reducing Harm, Improving Outcomes

  • How common is maternal mental ill health?
  • How can we improve outcomes for the woman, her infant, partner and family?
  • What should Scotland be trying to achieve?

Dr Roch Cantwell, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist, Perinatal Mental Health Service & West of Scotland Mother & Baby Unit, Leverndale Hospital

10:40    A Parents’ Journey

What is it like to be a parent in Scotland today? Through a short play a group of parents will share their struggles and successes. Parents will take you through their journey of:

  • Feeling judged
  • Seeking support
  • Finding hope

Jackie Tolland, Director, Parent Network Scotland, will introduce the parents:
Annmarie Strain, Aimee Ottroh, Debbie Gibb and Sylvia Browne

11:10    Questions and Discussion

11:30    Refreshments and Networking

11:45 Session 2: Taking Action Early

The University of Bristol’s C-Change Approach is designed as a complementary assessment process, to be used alongside standard methods of assessing children and their families, such as the Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) National Practice Model.

It is an assessment that focuses specifically on parental capacity to change with the aim of better informing future planning and decision-making.

The C-Change assessment enables the assessor to consider whether parents can change their situation to meet the child’s needs sufficiently in to the future. This type of assessment can potentially lead to improved Children’s Hearing reports, better decision-making, and reduced delays in securing children’s futures.

11:45    Start of Interactive Session

  • The C-Change Capacity for Change Manual for Scotland
  • The difference between parental capacity to change, parenting capacity and parental engagement or co-operation
  • Getting started: what do you need to know?

Dr Dendy Platt, Senior Lecturer in Social Work and co-developer of the C-Change: Assessing Capacity to Change Approach, University of Bristol

13:05    Lunch and Networking 

14:00 Session 3: Working With Parents to Foster Positive Childhoods

Both large and small interventions can make a difference to the lives’ of Scotland’s families. In this final session we will look at just a few of the ways we can work with parents so they can provide safe, stable and loving homes for their children.

14:00    ‘Mellow Parenting’ Before and After Birth

  • Why it is essential we engage with both parents before the birth
  • Who are the parents we work with, and how do we tailor our approach to their needs?
  • Engaging parents in our services
  • Working with mothers and fathers: the differences and the similarities
  • Continuing support after the birth

Dr Christine Puckering, Programme Director, Mellow Parenting

14:20    The New Orleans Intervention Model in Glasgow

  • The New Orleans Intervention Model: trialling a new approach to looking after infant mental health through infant and family teams.
  • Assessment: ensuring we use the right intervention for individual circumstances
  • Using attachment-informed, relationship-focused interventions: the Circle of Security, Parent-Infant Psychotherapy, Video Interaction Guidance
  • How we have made a difference: supporting attachments and achieving permanence

Jo-Anne Bell, Social Worker, NSPCC

14:40    Implementation of the Psychology of Parenting Project (PoPP) Across Scotland

  • Background and aims of the Psychology of Parenting Project (PoPP)
  • Outcomes from the PoPP
  • Information about 'Connecting with Parents’ Motivations' training and cascade
  • Some ideas for engaging families from PoPP sites

Dr Lauren Corlett, Principal Educator, Psychology of Parenting Project (PoPP), NHS Education for Scotland

15:00    A partnership approach to supporting families

  • How the North Ayrshire Early Years team is working in partnership with colleagues across the council and beyond
  • Considering a family in their wider context: debt, health, employment, education and more
  • Linking universal and specialist services
  • Building relationships with families

Andrew Keir, Corporate Parenting and GIRFEC Manager, North Ayrshire Council

15:20    Questions and Discussion

15:35    Final Remarks from the Chair

15:40    Close of Event     

*Agenda subject to change


NASUWT, The Mews, 35 Young Street North Lane, Edinburgh EH2 4JD


Delegate Rates (excluding VAT)

  • Discounted rate: £145 (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £245 | 2+ places £195 (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: 1 place £295 | 2+ places £245 (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For more information please email enquiries@holyrood.com or phone 0131 285 1635

29 August 2017
United Kingdom



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