Discriminatory Treatment of Disabled Parents Widespread, Report Says

The figures in a September National Council on Disability (NCD) report indicate that certain services, including some child welfare agencies, are displaying unequal — and in the words of the report’s authors, discriminatory — treatment of mothers and fathers with disabilities compared to other parents.

Rocking the Cradle Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children” finds that the removal rates of children from households with disabled parents are much higher than those for other families. According to the study, the removal rates for parents with psychiatric disabilities hovers at about 70 to 80 percent, while 40 to 80 percent of parents with intellectual disabilities are estimated to lose custody of their children.

Researchers state that more than 6 million children in the nation have mothers and fathers with disabilities – in total, representing about nine percent of the entire United States youth population.

Authors of the report list 20 key findings, along with recommendations for disabled parents that address systematic problems like retaining legal representation and using personal assistance services (PAS).

The report indicates that parents with disabilities face greater likelihoods of losing custody of their children following divorce proceedings, frequently report greater difficulties in acquiring reproductive healthcare services and face more obstacles to adopting children than other adults. 

“Discrimination against parents with disabilities is all too common throughout history, and it remains an obstacle to full equality for people with disabilities in the present,” the executive summary of the report reads. “Examination of the impediments prospective parents with disabilities encounter when accessing assisted reproductive technologies or adopting provides further examples of the need for comprehensive protection of these rights.”


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