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PAMS - Is It Right For You?

The PAMS Assessment (Parenting Assessment Manual) was developed by Dr Sue McGaw, a nationally renowned Clinical Psychologist in the field of working with parents with learning disabilities or difficulties. Dr Sue McGaw designed the PAMS as a tool that can be used to look more closely at what is required for ‘good enough parenting’.

Being a parent is not easy and every parent has a different style of parenting. If social services have child protection concerns about your children, you may be asked to have a PAMS assessment. Parents with Learning difficulties can often be ‘good enough’ parents when provided with the ongoing emotional and practical support they need.

The PAMS assessment holistically covers parenting and is separated into specific domains for assessment of parenting knowledge, the quality of parenting skills and the frequency and sustainability of parenting practice. The areas include: -

  • Childcare and development.

  • Behavior management.

  • Independent living skills.

  • Safety and hygiene.

  • Parents’ health.

  • Relationships and support.

  • The impact of the environment and community on parenting.

The expectation is the parenting assessment will:


  • Assess the parents’ abilities to provide the primary basic care and protection of their child/ren including routines and understanding the child’s developmental needs.


  • Assess the parents’ understanding of the emotional needs of the child/ren and their abilities to promote positive attachment to the child through play and interaction.


  • Consider the parent’s wider family and support networks, as well as the abilities to work with professionals in the best interests of their child/ren.


  • Consider the environmental issues that might affect the parent’s care of the child/ren such as employment, education, budgeting, housing, community resources etc.


  • Explore the childhood experiences of the parents in order to consider how such experiences may or may not impact on their ability to parent and protect the child/ren


  • Consider with the parent the possible need to receive outside support in connection with their own history or behaviour e.g. counselling, anger management, psychotherapy, drug or alcohol counselling etc.


  • Assess the parent’s understanding of the Local Authority’s concerns in relation to their child and the likely impact of these concerns have on their child/ren.

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