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Disabled single parents

Being disabled can bring additional challenges to parenting. Everyone’s circumstances are different, of course, but here we share some information you may find useful if you’re a disabled single parent.  

Parenting as a disabled person 

Looking after your wellbeing

Help with living independently

Paying for care

If your child is your carer

Your rights at work

Useful links

Note: We use the social model of disability, which acknowledges that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference. It means we use identity-first language on this page – like a ‘disabled parent’ rather than a ‘parent with a disability’. We know that not everyone uses the social model – you may describe yourself differently. Scope has more on the social model of disability.

Parenting as a disabled person

As a disabled single parent, you might feel isolated or overwhelmed. But you’re not alone and there is help out there. Disability, Pregnancy and Parenthood has lots of practical information and peer support for disabled parents. You can read advice from other parents who are disabled in the same way as you and have needed help with similar things – from nappy changing to getting out and about.

Our helpline can also help you find local services. If you’re deaf or speech impaired, you can access our helpline through the national text relay service. Text users can prefix their call with 18002.

Looking after your wellbeing

As a disabled parent, you might feel overlooked or invisible. You may feel that people see you as a risk or burden to your child – even the professionals who are supposed to be helping you. All parents feel guilty sometimes, but this feeling can be even stronger for disabled single parents. 

It can be really helpful to find a local or online group of disabled parents who understand the things you’re facing. They can help you see what’s good about how you’re raising your child. And they’re likely to be more compassionate and patient with you. 

Scope has an online forum for children, parents and families where you can have conversations about what you’re going through. Many disability charities offer meetup groups or online communities. You can also talk with other single parents on our online forum or by joining one of our local groups

Making new friends can help you feel less alone, but it’s not always easy. It’s up to you how much you share about your situation when meeting new people, but this can help break down barriers and make things less awkward. Scope has some good advice for talking about disability with new people.

If you’re struggling or feeling low, it’s best to ask for help sooner rather than later. Our page on your wellbeing has tips for looking after yourself and advice on where you can get help with your mental health.

Help with living independently

As a disabled parent, you may be eligible for practical and financial support from your council. If you need help with everyday tasks like washing, cooking and dressing, the first step is to have a free care needs assessment.

This will look at the help you need to live as independently as possible, including the support you need as a parent.

This can include:

  • Home care help with things like cleaning and shopping
  • Special equipment and adaptations to your home
  • Day care for your child
  • Help with parenting, such as parenting classes

You can get assessed regardless of how much money you earn or have saved, or how much or little help you need. You’ll be visited by a trained professional from the council like a social worker or occupational therapist. You can have someone you know with you during the visit, like a friend or relative. They can help if you don’t feel confident explaining your situation and make notes for you.

To get ready for your assessment, think about all the aspects of your life and what you struggle with. Make a list of what kind of support would help you live more comfortably. For example, help with getting your child ready for school, or specialised equipment like adapted pushchairs, or home adaptations to make life easier.

Afterwards, you’ll get a care plan. This is a written agreement setting out how your council will meet your needs.

MoneyHelper has more information on how a care needs assessment works. And Which? has a list of how to prepare and the kinds of questions you might be asked.

Paying for care

As part of the care needs assessment, the council should also assess your finances to see if you’re eligible for help with costs. Even if they decide you’re not, they should still give you advice on where to get local help and support.

Instead of having support organised by your council, you can choose to get the money to buy these services yourself. The money goes straight into your bank account as a direct payment. You can spend this money to organise and pay for your own care and support as specified in your care plan. So you could hire a care worker or personal assistant, for example, or equipment to help you live more independently.

MoneyHelper has more information on how direct payments work.

Disabled Facilities Grant

If your home needs to be adapted to meet your needs, you may be able to get a Disabled Facilities Grant. This could help you pay for things like installing ramps, widening doorways, improving access to your garden or building a downstairs bedroom.

You can apply for the grant through your local council. The grant won’t affect your benefits. The council may send an occupational therapist round to see you to see what changes you need.

They then have 6 months to make their decision. It’s important not to start working on your home until you get the grant. If you do, you may not get any money at all. 

You may need to apply separately for planning permission or building regulations approval. The council might ask you to use a qualified architect or surveyor to plan and oversee the work. If you get a grant, you can use it towards the cost of their fees.

Other financial support

You might be able to get other grants to help you live independently. The Disability Grants website can help you find a grant, or you can use the grants search tool on our website.

There are also benefits available to help with your extra costs. You might be surprised at what you can claim. For example, if you need help with everyday tasks or getting around, you might be able to claim Personal Independence Payment. It doesn’t matter how much you earn or have in savings. You could get between £26.90 and £172.75 a week (2023-24 rates). If you’re over State Pension age and need help with everyday tasks, you may be able to claim Attendance Allowance instead. 

If someone spends at least 35 hours a week looking after you, they may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance. This could be a parent, relative or friend, or a child who’s 16 or older.

Read more about financial support if you’re disabled or have a health condition.

If your child is your carer

If you have a child under 18 who helps with your care, they can get special support. You can get a young carer’s assessment from your local council. This will decide what support your family might need and what the council can give you. They should make sure your child isn’t taking on too much, and that their education and wellbeing are in good shape. The NHS has more on young carer’s rights.

Our page on your child’s wellbeing has more about support for young carers.

Your rights at work

Disabled single parents can worry they’ll be treated differently if they talk to their employer about their needs. You have the same rights as any other parent – and your employer has to consider your requests. If you feel like you can’t talk about your parenting needs at work when your non-disabled colleagues can, this could be a type of discrimination. 

It’s illegal for your employer to treat you differently or unfairly based on who you are, under the Equality Act 2010. This is because your disability is a characteristic that is protected by this act. Citizens Advice has more about these protected characteristics.

You also can’t be discriminated against for having parenting needs or for being a single parent.

Citizens Advice breaks down the different types of discrimination you might experience. You can use their step-by-step guide to check if you’re experiencing discrimination at work and how you can challenge it.

These are the 4 main types of discrimination under the Equality Act.

Indirect discrimination

This is when a policy or rule applies to everyone, but has a worse effect on some people than others.

For example, if an employer offered an incentive to employees who could drive, even though driving wasn’t a requirement of the job, that would be indirect discrimination against people who can’t get a driving licence because of a disability or health condition. 

And because women tend to have more childcare responsibilities, a policy insisting on working long work hours would indirectly discriminate against them based on their sex.

Direct discrimination

This is when your employer treats you differently and worse than someone else because of who you are.

If 2 employees worked in the same role but one was paid less than the other, and the only difference between them is that the one paid less was disabled, this would be seen as direct discrimination.


This is when someone creates an atmosphere that makes you uncomfortable. They could do this through physical behaviour, gestures, what they say or write, abuse, or threats.


This is when you’re treated unfairly because you’ve complained about discrimination or helped someone else complain about it. 

Date last updated: 24 April 2024

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