- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
"An invaluable resource for practitioners involved with mothers with mental illness and their children."
The stakes are undeniably high when it comes to deciding whether a mother with mental illness can raise her child in a safe, nurturing environment. Now, mental health professionals will have sound assessment strategies—refined over 10 years of study—that fairly evaluate the parenting competency of mothers with a wide range of mental illnesses, from "baby blues" to schizophrenia.
Going beyond measuring only the mother's degree of mental illness, the safety of the environment, or the rate of child development, this groundbreaking resource integrates multiple approaches so that professionals understand the full picture of parenting competency.
Mental health professionals will
With this much-needed resource, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and child welfare professionals will be primed to conduct more accurate assessments, make informed decisions, build stronger mother–child relationships, and facilitate family preservation whenever possible.
Excerpted from Chapter 5 of Assessment of Parenting Competency in Mothers with Mental Illness, by Teresa Ostler
Copyright © 2008 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
DOMAINS OF PARENTING TO ASSESS
After assessors have a grasp on a mother's past parenting skills, they can turn to what is known about the current skills that a mother brings to the parenting role. Table 5.1 provides an overview of critical domains of which assessors should gather information in the caregiving assessment.
Ability to Care for Self and Others
It is important to assess to what extent the mother can provide for herself and meet her own needs, especially if the mother's illness is chronic and severe. This includes determining whether a mother is able to maintain adequate housing for the child, hold down a job, or have enough income to make ends meet and whether she is able to get meals for herself and to provide for her own need for safety. If a mother cannot meet her own needs for shelter, safety, and food, it is highly unlikely that she will be able to provide for her children. Sorting out whether the difficulties are due to poverty alone, or to seriously compromised adaptive living skills, is essential.
Scales of adaptive living, such as the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Second Edition (Sparrow, Balla, & Cicchetti, 2005), use a structured questionnaire format to obtain objective information on a mother's overall level of adaptive functioning in various domains, including communication skills, daily living skills, socialization skills, motor skills, and maladaptive behavior.
Closely linked to a mother's ability to care for her own basic needs is her ability to meet her children's basic needs, including their needs for food, shelter, clothing, and safety. Other basic abilities to assess include whether the mother can ensure that her children's health and educational needs are met (see Appendix A).
Observing how a mother interacts with her children is another essential part of the caregiving assessment (Barnum, 1997; Budd & Holdsworth, 1996; Reder & Lucey, 1995b). Observations can provide direct evidence of a mother's ability to protect her children and to supervise their whereabouts. The following features of parenting behavior are especially valuable to assess because they reveal information about the parent–child attachment relationship (Bowlby, 1988): how a mother comforts her child when the child is ill, hurt, or frightened; how she reads and responds to her children's cues; whether and how she prioritizes her children's needs; and whether she values the child and helps the child to feel safe and secure.
Questionnaires are another way that clinicians can assess parenting behavior. Because many measures have questions that ask a mother to report on her own behavior, they may have limited validity, especially if the mother is seeking to regain custody of a child. The validity of questionnaires is improved if they are part of an integrative assessment that examines patterns across data sources and time periods.
Rating scales that are based on independent observations of behavior are preferable to self-report measures because they provide a more objective measure of parenting behavior. Rating scales that have proven reliability and validity (i.e., those that can be replicated and measure what they purport to measure) should be selected whenever possible. Scales that are selected should also provide a representative sample of the parent's behavior and not just a narrow aspect of the parent's activities or attitudes (Jordan &Franklin, 2003). Clinicians should check information from rating scales with information from other sources to determine if the behavior and findings