There is an increasing body of research indicating that individuals with disabilities can effectively parent with appropriate services and supports. Child welfare professionals should be equipped with the information and expertise necessary to ensure these parents can be safely reunified with their children. Case workers should be aware of how reasonable accommodations requirements provided by both the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (for agencies receiving Federal funding) may affect the case. The following resources highlight some of the unique challenges and best practices of working toward reunification with a parent who has a disability.
The Association for Supported Parenting
Provides a website that links to important information aimed to enhance the well-being of at-risk parents with learning difficulties and their children.
The Child Welfare System: Removal, Reunification, and Termination
National Council on Disability (2012)
Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children
Examines the treatment of parents with disabilities and their families involved with child welfare, including reunification.
The Intersection of Child Welfare and Disability: Focus on Parents (PDF - 1,413 KB)
University of Minnesota, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (2013)
Provides information about serving parents with disabilities in child welfare systems, including an overview of the prevalence and population of parents with disabilities and mental illness in child welfare; practice strategies and policy recommendations for supporting parents with disabilities and mental illnesses; and innovative examples of collaboration and communication across systems.
Parenting With a Disability: Know Your Rights Toolkit (PDF - 1,012 KB)
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and the National Council on Disability (2016)
Provides a summary of disability laws that protect families' rights, along with information on adoption, custody, visitation, family law, and the child welfare system.
Parents With Disabilities in Child Welfare Agencies and Courts
ADA National Network (2017)
Gives data on parents with disabilities in the United States and the risks they face relating to the child welfare system as well as information about the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Protecting the Rights of Parents and Prospective Parents with Disabilities: Technical Assistance for State and Local Child Welfare Agencies and Courts under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & U.S. Department of Justice (2015)
Provides guidance for child welfare agencies working with parents with intellectual or physical disabilities.
Supporting Parents With Psychiatric Disabilities: A Model Reunification Statute (PDF - 219 KB)
Scott, Mathis, & Burnim (2012)
UPenn Collaborative on Community Integration & Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Provides a template for States to ensure that their laws reflect the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act, that appropriate protections are in place to prevent the unnecessary separation of families, and that reunification services are modified as needed.
Your Rights as a Person With a Disability in the Child Welfare System (PDF - 318 KB)
Office for Civil Rights (2016)
Outlines Federal laws designed to protect and support parents with a disability as they navigate the child welfare system.