Protecting the Rights of Parents with Disabilities . http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/specialtopics/adoption/index.html. Disability Rights Section. An important responsibility of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability against students with disabilities. For example, child welfare agencies may have a parenting skills class once per week. August 10, 2015 Source: DOJ. 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. Today the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a technical assistance document: 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 ( … The document provides technical assistance to state child welfare systems and courts for protecting the rights of parents and prospective parents with disabilities. Full and equal opportunity. For example, in a recent joint investigation by OCR and DOJ of practices of a State child welfare agency, OCR and DOJ determined that the State agency engaged in discrimination against a parent with a disability.5  The investigation arose from a complaint that a mother with a developmental disability was subject to discrimination on the basis of her disability because the State did not provide her with supports and services following the removal of her two-day-old infant. 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. 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. How does the equal opportunity requirement apply to case planning activities of child welfare agencies? What are auxiliary aids and services? ERISA contains an "anti-discrimination" provision that makes it unlawful for any person to be fired or otherwise discriminated against for exercising his or her rights under an ERISA- governed plan. OCR receives numerous complaints and inquiries in the area of elementary and secondary education involving Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. November 17, 2020. Title II and Section 504 require that agency staff refrain from basing assessments, services, or decisions on assumptions, generalizations, or stereotypes about disability. We are pleased to announce that Disability Rights Washington (DRW) has recently made a new priority to help parents with disabilities. 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. A parent with a ‘learning disability’ has a IQ below 70; a parent with a ‘learning difficulty’ has an IQ above 70, but both parents may struggle with the same difficulties. The attached Questions and Answers provide more detailed information and specific implementation examples for child welfare agencies and courts. Like child welfare agencies, courts must also make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures where necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability.61  For example, it may be necessary to adjust hearing schedules to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities, if the need for the adjustment is related to the individual’s disability. Answer:  An aggrieved person may raise a Title II or Section 504 claim in child welfare proceedings. You should not be denied fertility treatment because you have a disability. The Children’s Bureau in the HHS Administration for Children and Families administers funding for child welfare agencies and courts and provides guidance and technical assistance to child welfare agencies regarding child welfare law. Currently, the U.S. legal system is not protecting the rights of parents with disabilities and their children. U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in health programs and activities that receive Federal funds.. Protecting the Rights of Parents and Prospective Parents with Disabilities(link is external): 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 Justice and Department of Health and Human Services) For general information about civil rights and child welfare, visit the Department of Health and Human Services website(link is external). Or it may be necessary to provide an aide or other assistive services in order for a person with a disability to participate fully in a court event.62  Such assistance should be provided unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration.63, Answer:  Yes. Two principles that are fundamental to Title II of the ADA and Section 504 are: 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. How can agencies comply with the ADA and Section 504 while also ensuring health and safety? And, as parents do, we've discovered over the course of many years that being a parent is a lifetime of hard work and commitment; an incredibly rich and rewarding gift. 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. At the same time, child welfare agencies and courts have the responsibility to protect children from abuse and neglect. APA co-hosted a congressional briefing to draw attention to the significant barriers faced by parents with disabilities. Protecting the rights of parents with disabilities. U.S. Department of Health And Human Services, Office for Civil Rights Administration for Children and Families, Civil Rights Division 1. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and DOJ Civil Rights Division have received numerous complaints of discrimination from individuals with disabilities involved with the child welfare system, and the frequency of such complaints is rising. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (U.S. Department of Justice and Department of … Parents have a certain role to play in the process of getting children the help they need. Reeves, S. (2013, July). Answer:  We recommend that child welfare agencies and courts review and update their policies and procedures on a regular basis to ensure that they comply with the ADA and Section 504. Approved by the NCIL membership July, 2007. For more information about the responsibilities of child welfare agencies under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act, see “DOJ/HHS Joint Letter to Massachusetts Department of Children and Families,” at www.ada.gov/new.htm. What are some other best practices for child welfare agencies and courts? 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. Another example would be denying a person with a disability the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent based on stereotypical beliefs about how the disability may affect the individual’s ability to provide appropriate care for a child. They include training judges, attorneys and other court personnel to be culturally competent in their work with people with disabilities; passing laws similar to the Indian Child Welfare Act to protect parents with disabilities; and enhancing collaboration between government agencies that work with children and people with disabilities. 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. ... 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. To provide assistance to parents with disabilities that is equal to that offered to parents without disabilities, child welfare agencies may be required to provide enhanced or supplemental training, to increase frequency of training opportunities, or to provide such training in familiar environments conducive to learning. In addition, the report recommends several ways to ensure the rights of parents with disabilities. COVID-19 resources for psychologists, health-care workers and the public. Is an agency required to arrange for services to parents and prospective parents with disabilities that are necessary to avoid discrimination but are not available within the agency’s programs? 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. At the same time, service plans should not rely on fears or stereotypes to require parents with disabilities to accept unnecessary services or complete unnecessary tasks to prove their fitness to parent when nondisabled parents would not be required to do so. Title II prohibits the imposition of surcharges to cover the costs of measures required to provide an individual with nondiscriminatory treatment.86  For example, child welfare agencies and courts may not charge persons with disabilities for any costs associated with providing effective communication during visitation, meetings, and court hearings, and may be required to provide transportation to accessible facilities when needed to fulfill their program access obligations. Title II and Section 504 also make child welfare agencies responsible for the programs and activities of private and non-profit agencies that provide services to children and families on behalf of the state or municipality.56, Answer:  Yes. In other instances, this may mean making reasonable modifications to policies, procedures, or practices, unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the program.26  For example, if a child welfare agency provides classes on feeding and bathing children and a mother with an intellectual disability needs a different method of instruction to learn the techniques, the agency should provide the mother with the method of teaching that she needs. 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. Find out what parents of children with disabilities can expect in this list of rights … Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition, both DOJ and HHS OCR enforce Title II of the ADA against public entities, including child welfare agencies and state courts. The goals of child welfare and disability non-discrimination are mutually attainable and complementary. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office for Civil Rights. Both the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and DOJ Civil Rights Division have received numerous complaints of discrimination from individuals with disabilities involved with the child welfare system, and the frequency of such complaints is rising. Title II and Section 504 also allow for compensatory damages for aggrieved individuals. Clearly, the legal system is not protecting the rights of parents with disabilities and their children. 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. Answer:  Title II covers all of the programs, services, and activities of state and local governments, their agencies, and departments.54  Similarly, Section 504 applies to all of the activities of agencies that receive Federal financial assistance.55  Therefore, all child welfare-related activities and programs of child welfare agencies and courts are covered, including, but not limited to, investigations, witness interviews, assessments, removal of children from their homes, case planning and service planning, visitation, guardianship, adoption, foster care, reunification services, and family court proceedings. What does it mean to provide effective communication? In addition, we recommend that they look for ways to coordinate with disability organizations and agencies to assist in service planning and to support them in their efforts to ensure equal opportunity for parents and prospective parents with disabilities. 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. The child welfare agency’s obligation to ensure individualized assessments applies at the outset and throughout any involvement that an individual with a disability has with the child welfare system. Many specialized services to support persons with disabilities are often available from other social service agencies, as well as disability organizations. For example, the ADA explicitly makes an exception where an individual with a disability represents a "direct threat. To ensure that persons with disabilities have equal opportunity to retain or reunify with their children, it may be necessary for the agency to reasonably modify policies, practices, and procedures in child welfare proceedings. July 1, 2007 By . Protecting the Rights of Parents and Prospective Parents with Disabilities - Technical Assistance. But, as parents do, we've also made our share of mistakes along the way. An Online Community By And For Parents And Prospective Parents With Disabilities. Adult companions may be used as interpreters only in emergencies and only when other factors are met. This guidance provides an overview of the issues and application of civil rights laws, answers to specific questions and implementation examples for child welfare agencies and courts, and resources to consult for additional information. Answer:  No. This document was released on August 31, 2015 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice. 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 … Title II prohibits discrimination in child welfare programs and services when those services are provided by contractors.64  Section 504 prohibits discrimination in child welfare programs receiving federal financial assistance, including programs receiving federal financial assistance operated by private entities under contract with child welfare agencies.65  Accordingly, to the extent that courts and agencies contract with private agencies and providers to conduct child welfare activities, the agencies should ensure that in the performance of their contractual duties contractors comply with the prohibition of discrimination in Title II and Section 504.66. Individuals enjoy this protection whether or not they have a disability.53. The percentage of parents with intellectual disabilities who have their children taken away from them is as high as 40 percent to 80 percent. 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. (2015). The type of auxiliary aid or service necessary to ensure effective communication will vary in accordance with the method of communication used by the individual with a disability; the nature, length, and complexity of the communication involved; and the context in which the communication is taking place.70 For example, a local child welfare agency may be required to provide qualified interpreters to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities during agency meetings to discuss service planning. 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. 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. TLG’s legal program provides free technical assistance and advocacy to 100’s of families facing this issue year after year. 5. Individuals who believe they have been aggrieved under Title II or Section 504 should file complaints at the earliest opportunity. The ADA and Section 504 are consistent with the principle of child safety. See 42 U.S.C. The document provides technical assistance to state child welfare systems and courts for protecting the rights of parents and prospective parents with disabilities. Section 1557 builds on long-standing Federal civil rights laws. Individuals with disabilities must be treated on a case-by-case basis consistent with facts and objective evidence.20  Persons with disabilities may not be treated on the basis of generalizations or stereotypes.21  For example, prohibited treatment would include the removal of a child from a parent with a disability based on the stereotypical belief, unsupported by an individual assessment, that people with disabilities are unable to safely parent their children. Parents with disabilities find their rights taken away on account of their disability, while parents of children with disabilities find their rights questioned. But, as parents do, we've also made our share of mistakes along the way. 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. 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. For a parent with a disability who requires individualized assistance in learning new skills because of her or his disability, child welfare agencies may need to modify this training to allow more frequent, longer, or more meaningful training. 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). ACF also provides guidance and technical assistance to child welfare agencies regarding child welfare law. 4 At the same time, child welfare agencies and courts have the responsibility to protect children … Congress should amend the Adoption and Safe Families Act so that these practices are specifically forbidden and so that the appropriate agencies are directed to enforce the law. Title: Protecting the Rights of Parents and Prospective Parents with Disabilities Author: Journey Created Date: 8/24/2016 8:22:43 AM 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, we suggest that courts consider whether any reasonable modifications are necessary and should be made for parents with disabilities. The federal law which mandates all children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate education (FAPE) also includes a host of rights for you – the parent or parents. 24  In some cases, it may mean ensuring physical or programmatic accessibility or providing auxiliary aids and services to ensure adequate communication and participation, unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the program or undue financial and administrative burden.25  For example, a child welfare agency must provide an interpreter for a father who is deaf when necessary to ensure that he can participate in all aspects of the child welfare interaction. 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