According to a new report released by the National Council on Disability, disabled parents across the nation have had their children taken away from them by social services because of their disabilities. To many child-welfare experts, they are simply trying to keep the child’s best interests in mind. People in the disability-rights community however say that this could be interpreted as a form of discrimination if the issue is not addressed soon by legislatures across the nation.
“Parents with disabilities continue to be the only distinct community that has to fight to retain – and sometimes gain – custody of their own children,” says one activist from the National Council on Disability, who also claims that taking children away from parents on the grounds of disability “clearly violates” the intent of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
It’s an issue that has some attorneys at odds with social workers who claim that they “can’t possibly fathom how [a disabled person] could parent a [child].” According to one disability-rights lawyer, “Of course there are going to be some parents with disabilities who would be lousy parents – that’s the same with parents without disabilities,” she said. “If there is neglect, is it due to the disability? And can it be rectified by providing the necessary support?”
Many people across the nation feel that the courts and the Social Security Administration are not on the same page when it comes to disability rights and how capable disabled parents actually are. The council’s report points out that many of the assessment tests given to disabled parents put them at a disadvantage and can actually hurt their chances to keep their children. They suggest that research be done to improve the assessment standards in order to “gain more knowledge about how various disabilities affect the ability to be an effective parent.”
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Disabled parents face bias, loss of kids: report,” The Associated Press, Nov. 26, 2012