Last month we published an article where our LEaP Project asked you for your personal experiences of obtaining a Parent Carer Needs Assessment (PCNA). The aim of gathering this important information is to help our research team assess how widespread the issue of denied or combined PCNAs are. If you missed the article, you can read it here.
We received a number of emails from parents sharing their experiences of PCNAs within their local authorities, which we are very grateful for. Below we have shared a few of these experiences with you and discuss how you can challenge your local authorities if this has happened to you.
One parent contacted us explaining she was denied a PCNA on the basis that she was not caring for an adult and therefore was not classed as a ‘carer’ under the Care Act 2014. Here, the local authority had failed to apply the correct legislation meaning that the parent was wrongly denied a PCNA. The English local authority should have applied section 17ZD of the Children Act 1989 which explains when they must assess whether a parent carer has needs for support. Essentially, local authorities in England must carry out a PCNA if:
- it appears that the parent carer may have needs for support or the parent carer requests an assessment; AND
- the disabled child cared for and the family are persons for whom the local authority may provide or arrange for the provision of services under section 17.
Another parent, also living in England, explained how she had been consistently denied a PCNA for over 15 months despite submitting a number of complaints. From speaking to other parents with disabled children in her area, it seemed this was a very common issue with several others also being completely denied of an assessment.
One parent contacted us explaining that while her local authority was assessing her family for respite care, they failed to assess parental need throughout the process at all. Thankfully, after a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman the authority reassessed the family and they were awarded direct payments which they now use for respite.
Lastly, one parent carer explained how she had been consistently denied a PCNA in her own right since 2016. She had never been offered any separate support to help her with her caring responsibilities. As a result she took voluntary redundancy from her job with the aim to study and increase the family income. She requested a PCNA in 2016 requesting one day of study a week after successfully being accepted into University. The local authority continue to refuse to take her needs as a parent carer into consideration and despite challenging this she was unsuccessful and had to give up her place in University in 2017.
It is concerning to hear these stories from parents where local authorities across the UK are continuing to unlawfully refuse to assess the needs of parent carers. Ultimately, if the local authorities do not adequately assess the needs of parent carers, this not only has a negative impact on their personal wellbeing but also the development and wellbeing of their disabled child(ren).
Our LEaP Project are keen to address this widespread issue and help parent carers get the support they are legally entitled to. So, if you have experienced similar events to those above and would like our support, please get in contact by completing our online LEaP request form.