Parents with disabilities often face bias and risk losing custody of their children in the U.S., according to a new report by the National Council on Disability.
The report found that the U.S. legal system does not effectively protect disabled parents' rights. The report said that most states have child welfare laws that allow the courts to decide if a parent is unfit solely on the basic of having a disability. The report found that may state laws that allow disabled parents' custody rights to be terminated violates the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
Roughly 6.1 million children in the U.S have parents with disabilities, according to the report. Disabled parents have a higher risk of losing custody of their children and the report found that in some areas, child removal rates are as high as 80 percent for parents with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities.
The report also found that parents will all types of disabilities are more likely to lose child custody after getting divorced as well as face more bias when trying to adopt children.
Advocates for parents with disabilities say that more needs to be done to ensure that these parents have support networks and the help they need to provide for their children. Advocates want more programs for disabled parents and for child welfare offices to be more understanding and open to different approaches for caring for a child.
Advocates also want the Americans with Disabilities Act to officially include parents in the legislation to reduce the bias and discrimination against parents with disabilities.
Source: The Tennessean, "Disabled parents face bias, loss of kids, according to new study," David Crary, Dec. 12, 2012
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