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Title: A qualitative exploration of the views and experiences of family court magistrates making decisions in care proceedings involving parents with learning disabilities
Author: Kollinsky, Laura
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2010
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The number of parents with learning disabilities appears to be increasing in the United Kingdom; however, there is some evidence to suggest that parents with learning disabilities are more likely to have their children permanently removed than other parents. As yet there has been no known research involving magistrates in England and this is surprising considering they are at the forefront of decision-making in care proceedings. This study aimed to explore the experience of magistrates making decisions in care proceedings involving parents with learning disabilities, in particular, views about people with learning disabilities and influential factors in decision-making. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse the transcripts of interviews with four family court magistrates and the report focuses on the three superordinate themes that arose from the analysis. The results highlighted some contrast in views about people and parents with learning disabilities. Three participants appeared keen to regard people with learning disabilities as very individual, whilst one participant made some generalisations about some groups of people with learning disabilities all being the same. Four main influential factors when determining the best interests of the child were spoken of, which included the timescale and age of the child, expert opinion, parenting abilities and support. Finally, participants spoke of the influence of experiences with people with learning disabilities on the role they adopt within care proceedings and the awareness they have developed regarding the limits of their own knowledge. To overcome making generalisations about parents with learning disabilities and to enable magistrates to be more active in care proceedings, some participants raised a need for magistrates to receive training about learning disabilities. Limitations and implications for practice are also discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available