Despite this, evidence has come into the limelight recently that parents with disabilities are highly likely to be discriminated against or have their parental rights disrespected. 1. Societal Stigma: Over 1/3rd of respondents in the 1962/2007 Minnesota Survey of Attitudes disagreed with the statement: “People with developmental disabilities should be allowed to have children, just like everyone else.” 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 . Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children. Agencies should also take appropriate steps to ensure that components of child welfare processing, such as “fast-track” and concurrent planning, are not applied to persons with disabilities in a manner that has a discriminatory effect and that denies parents with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully and meaningfully in family reunification efforts. These issues are long-standing and widespread. Parents have a certain role to play in the process of getting children the help they need. Automatic bypass of family reunification services and streamlined efforts to terminate rights of parents with disabilities are also common. The goals of child welfare and disability non-discrimination are mutually attainable and complementary. Under federal law, parents and prospective parents with disabilities are protected fromunlawful discrimination in the administration of child welfare programs, activities, and services. Protecting the rights of parents with disabilities. Often, mainstream services don’t have experience of working with adults with learning disabilities or learning difficulties [LD] and may not use specialist assessments. Issue: Attitudinal & Political Barriers Societal Stigma. The attached Questions and Answers provide more detailed information and specific implementation examples for child welfare agencies and courts. What steps are child welfare agencies required to take to ensure that parents and prospective parents with disabilities involved with the child welfare system have an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from their programs and activities? Can you tell me about these parental rights? “This guidance will help ensure that parents and prospective parents are not discriminatorily deprived of custody of their children, or denied the opportunity to adopt or serve as foster parents, because of stereotypes and unfounded assumptions about persons with disabilities, which we have seen in our complaints,” said Jocelyn Samuels, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health … For more information about the ADA and Section 504, you may call the DOJ’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov. I’ve heard I have some rights as a parent who has a child with disabilities, in addition to my child’s rights. As a result, this family was separated for more than two years. Title II and Section 504 also protect “companions” of individuals involved in the child welfare system when the companion is an appropriate person with whom the child welfare agency or court should communicate. "87 Section 504 incorporates a similar principle.88, Under the ADA and Section 504, a direct threat is a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services.89  In determining whether an individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of a child or others, child welfare agencies and courts must make an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence, to ascertain the nature, duration, and severity of the risk to the child; the probability that the potential injury to the child will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk.90, As such, in some cases an individual with a disability may not be a qualified individual with a disability for child placement purposes. We are pleased to announce that Disability Rights Washington (DRW) has recently made a new priority to help parents with disabilities. Given the responsibilities of agencies discussed above, we also recommend that courts consider whether parents and prospective parents with disabilities have been afforded an equal opportunity to attain reunification, including whether they have been provided with appropriate services and supports and other reasonable modifications to enable them to participate fully and meaningfully in family preservation efforts. For example, the ADA explicitly makes an exception where an individual with a disability represents a "direct threat. Discriminatory separation of parents from their children can result in long-term negative consequences to both parents and their children. http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/specialtopics/adoption/index.html. The HHS Office for Civil Rights and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department are responsible for protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities by enforcing Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The recommendations are directed to state and local child welfare agencies and courts under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act . TLG’s legal program provides free technical assistance and advocacy to 100’s of families facing this issue year after year. What can individuals do when they believe they have been subjected to discrimination in violation of Title II or Section 504. needs of a parent or prospective parent who has a disability to provide meaningful and equal access to the benefit. The second part of the training is on protecting the rights of parents and prospective parents withdisabilities. To call attention to the barriers faced by these parents, APA, in collaboration with the NCD, the National Association of Social Work and the Child Welfare League, hosted an April 17 congressional briefing to highlight the findings in NCD's report. . Courts are required to provide auxiliary aids and services when necessary to ensure effective communication, unless an undue burden or fundamental alteration would result.60  For example, courts should provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to a parent who is deaf so that he or she can access court proceedings as fully and effectively as those who are not deaf. Ensure that child welfare assessments are “individualized,” taking into consideration the functional effects of the disability, but not based on stereotypes and generalizations about individuals with disabilities. COVID-19 resources for psychologists, health-care workers and the public. This does not mean lowering standards for individuals with disabilities; rather, in keeping with the requirements of individualized treatment, services must be adapted to meet the needs of a parent or prospective parent who has a disability to provide meaningful and equal access to the benefit. Andrews also offered recommendations related to parenting and disability: On the basis of the overwhelming response to the briefing, APA and its briefing partners will convene a meeting to discuss follow-up and next steps. While these rights apply to parents with intellectual disabilities, their parental rights are sometimes termi-nated solely upon the determination that a parent has an intellectual disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act authorizes the Department of Justice (the Department) to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities that have rights or responsibilities under the Act. Many specialized services to support persons with disabilities are often available from other social service agencies, as well as disability organizations. From Disability Rights Washington. See 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 … But, as parents do, we've also made our share of mistakes along the way. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) are issuing this technical assistance to assist state and local child welfare agencies and courts to ensure that the welfare of children and families is protected in a manner that also protects the civil rights of parents and prospective parents1 with disabilities. Protecting the Rights of Parents with Disabilities The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law in 1990, recognized the civil rights of a large class of citizens with physical and mental disabilities by making it illegal to discriminate against them in employment, transportation or public services and accommodations. Child welfare agencies have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of children. In order to be effective, auxiliary aids and services must be provided in a timely manner and in such a way as to protect the privacy and independence of the individual with a disability.74, Child welfare agencies and courts are prohibited from requiring individuals with disabilities to supply their own interpreters or other auxiliary aids and services.75  Child welfare agencies and courts may not rely on minor children accompanying individuals with disabilities to interpret, except in emergencies involving imminent threats to the safety or welfare of an individual or the public where no interpreter is available.76, Answer:  Child welfare agencies are required to ensure that parents and prospective parents with disabilities involved in the child welfare system are afforded an opportunity to preserve their families and/or to become parents that is equal to the opportunity that the entities offer to individuals without disabilities.79. (1) individualized treatment; and (2) full and equal opportunity. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice Provide Technical Assistance to Courts and Child Welfare Agencies Regarding the Rights of Parents with Disabilities under 504 and the ADA Posted on July 5, 2013. Too often, parents with disabilities — mental, physical or both — must fight to maintain custody of their children, according to Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children, a 2012 report by the federal National Council on Disability (NCD). Agencies should also ensure that staff members develop appropriate service plan tasks and goals that address the individualized needs of all affected family members with disabilities, recognizing that allowing parents with disabilities to use family members as part of their support network may be appropriate. For more information about Title II of the ADA, including the Title II Technical Assistance Manual and Revised ADA Requirements:  Effective Communication, see www.ada.gov/ta-pubs-pg2.htm. Now, however, legislatures across the country are considering changes to state laws that would ensure the rights of parents and prospective parents with disabilities, along with their families. For example, when providing training to parents, agencies should consider the individual learning techniques of persons with disabilities and may need to incorporate the use of visual modeling or other individualized techniques to ensure equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the training. This guidance document is not intended to be a final agency action, has no legally binding effect, and may be rescinded or modified in the Department's complete discretion, in accordance with applicable laws. Child welfare agencies should take steps to ensure that their obligations under Title II and Section 504 are met by reviewing the following: Child welfare agencies may be required to modify their own services, or, when necessary, to arrange for services outside of the agency, in order to ensure equal opportunity for parents and prospective parents with disabilities under Title II and Section 504. http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/complaints/index.html, http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/specialtopics/adoption/index.html, http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/office/about/rgn-hqaddresses.html, www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/activities/examples/Disability/mass_lof.pdf, www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/ada_qa_final_rule.cfm, American Bar Association, Model Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 2.3 (b), www.ada.gov/doe_doj_eff_comm/doe_doj_eff_comm_faqs.pdf. Parents with disabilities routinely face barriers in parenting, from lack to access to reproductive health care to discriminatory treatment in child custody and adoption cases, the council found. For instance, section 475 of the Social Security Act provides that the child welfare agency is required to file a petition to terminate parental rights when the child is in foster care for the preceding 15 out of 22 months. For example, if parenting training is not working, staff should evaluate whether there are any unnecessary barriers to the training that could be removed or reasonably modified, such as increased opportunities for modeling behavior. In her remarks at the briefing, Andrews called for more research on parents with disabilities and highlighted the need for culturally competent trained health care professionals in addressing the reproductive needs of women with disabilities. Two-thirds of state child welfare laws allow courts to determine a parent is unfit solely on the basis of a parent’s disability. ... to advocate for equal rights for parents with disabilities and to explore opportunities to provide training to the membership on issues surrounding parenting with a disability. Where this is the case, Title II and Section 504 may require agencies to provide additional, individually tailored services and resources to meet the requirement to provide an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the program. Adult companions may be used as interpreters only in emergencies and only when other factors are met. Arranging for such services from outside sources may be necessary to provide an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the agency’s programs. Agencies also have an obligation to ensure that the aids, benefits, and services provided to parents and prospective parents in support of appropriate service plan activities and goals – such as visitation, parenting skills training, transportation assistance, counseling, respite, and other “family preservation services” and “family support services” – are appropriately tailored to be useful to the individual.80  For example, if a child welfare agency provides transportation to visits for individuals without disabilities, it should provide accessible transportation to individuals with disabilities to ensure equal opportunity. In an embarrassing eugenics-era decision made on May 2, 1927, in Buck v.Bell, the U.S. Supreme Court held that persons with disabilities do not enjoy the same fundamental rights to make private decisions regarding family life as other Americans. Individuals who believe they have been aggrieved under Title II or Section 504 should file complaints at the earliest opportunity. Nothing in the current emergency waives or undercuts those rights. Answer: Title VI protects all children, parents, grandparents, caregivers, foster and adoptive parents, kinship guardians, and individuals seeking to become foster or adoptive parents who interact with federally funded recipients. What both the ADA and Section 504 require, however, is that decisions about child safety and whether a parent, prospective parent, or foster parent represents a direct threat to the safety of the child must be based on an individualized assessment and objective facts and may not be based on stereotypes or generalizations about persons with disabilities.91. 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. Information for parents and prospective parents with disabilities: Protecting the Rights of Parents and Prospective Parents with Disabilities cover letter Technical Assistance Document. Staff should consider whether the agency is appropriately assisting family members in meeting service plan tasks and case goals, and whether modifications must be made. The act establishes that family protection safeguards for a parent or prospective parent with a disability are critical to family preservation and the best interests of the children of Colorado. Title: Protecting the Rights of Parents and Prospective Parents with Disabilities Author: Lesley Cothran Created Date: 5/3/2016 10:37:52 PM This document provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA and the Department's regulations. Child welfare agencies and courts should consider whether they are taking appropriate steps to ensure that effective communication is provided in different settings and as cases develop. Child welfare agencies and courts may also be required to provide reasonable modifications to their policies, practices, or procedures and/or appropriate auxiliary aids and services during assessments to ensure equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The report cites APA's Guidelines for Assessment of and Intervention With Persons With Disabilities as a mechanism in assessing parents with disabilities in child welfare and family court. We recommend that child welfare agencies and courts also ensure that their employees and contractors are sufficiently trained in ADA and Section 504 compliance. Answer:  Under Title II of the ADA and Section 504, child welfare agencies and courts must make changes in policies, practices, and procedures to accommodate the individual needs of a qualified person with a disability, unless the change would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the program.67   Parenting skills do not come naturally to many parents, with or without disabilities. By applying these principles consistently in the child welfare system, child welfare agencies and courts can ensure that parents and prospective parents with disabilities have equal access to parenting opportunities while ensuring children safely remain in or are placed in safe and caring homes. The National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities, a program of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University, is currently looking for parents with disabilities to contribute to a quarterly blog on the experiences and needs of parents with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities must be provided opportunities to benefit from or participate in child welfare programs, services, and activities that are equal to those extended to individuals without disabilities.22  This principle can require the provision of aids, benefits, and services different from those provided to other parents and prospective parents where necessary to ensure an equal opportunity to obtain the same result or gain the same benefit, such as family reunification.23. SECTION 1557 OF THE ACA. Decisions about whether this exception applies to a situation in which the supports necessary for a person with a disability to access services were not provided should be made on a case-by-case basis. We also recommend that courts consider evidence concerning the manner in which the use of adaptive equipment or supportive services may enable a parent with disabilities to carry out the responsibilities of parenting. Individuals who prevail as parties in litigation may also obtain reasonable attorney’s fees, costs, and litigation expenses.95, Under Section 504, remedies also include suspension and termination of Federal financial assistance, the use of cautionary language or attachment of special conditions when awarding Federal financial assistance, and bypassing recalcitrant agencies and providing Federal financial assistance directly to sub-recipients.96. Additionally, subject to certain limitations, an aggrieved person may pursue a complaint regarding discrimination in child welfare services, programs, or activities under Title II or Section 504 in federal court. Section 504 provides that no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of any entity that receives Federal financial assistance, or be subjected to discrimination by such entity.14  Federal financial assistance includes grants, loans, and reimbursements from Federal agencies, including assistance provided to child welfare agencies and the courts.15  An entity can be a recipient of Federal financial assistance either directly or as a sub-recipient.16  Section 504 applies to all of the operations of agencies and sub-agencies of state and local governments, even if Federal financial assistance is directed to one component of the agency or for one purpose of the agency.17  Recipients of Federal financial assistance must agree to comply with Section 504, and generally other civil rights laws, as a condition of receiving Federal financial assistance.18. In 1927, the Supreme Court denied those rights to parents with disabilities. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office for Civil Rights. State laws have helped shaped these trends, said Powell. Foster care and adoption agencies must also ensure that qualified foster parents and prospective parents with disabilities are provided opportunities to participate in foster care and adoption programs equal to opportunities that agencies provide to individuals without disabilities.83   This may require foster care and adoption agencies to reasonably modify policies, practices, and procedures, where necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability. Answer:  In addition to providing to parents with disabilities all reunification services that it provides to parents without disabilities, a child welfare agency may be required, under Title II and Section 504, to arrange for available services from sources outside of the agency as a reasonable modification of its procedures and practices for parents with disabilities so long as doing so would not constitute a fundamental alteration. You should not be denied fertility treatment because you have a disability. Who is considered a person with a disability under Title II of the ADA and Section 504? Reeves, S. (2013, July). 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