Disabled Parents Losing Right to Parent their Own Children in America while Foster Parent Recruitment Seeks “Imperfect Parents”
Parents with disabilities face challenges in raising their children. One challenge that many may not have expected, however, is the right simply to BE a parent. A recent article by the Pacific Standard describes the "uphill battle" that parents with disabilities face to keep their own children. The statistics cited are alarming: "Research indicates that parents with disabilities and their families are overrepresented in the child welfare system. While parents with disabilities make up only 6.2 percent of all parents in the United States, a recent study found that 19 percent of children in foster care have a parent with a disability." According to data from the Child Maltreatment report for 2016 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only about 25% of the children coming into the system are taken for reasons of physical or sexual abuse. Most children placed into the foster care system were not abused. Nationally, only 17.2% of the allegations against parents are even substantiated. Yet, disabled parents are losing their children at a higher rate than the general public. Sometimes, their disability is the sole reason for their children being taken from them. What is worse is that they are less likely to get their children back once the state takes them. All of this violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Ad Council slogan, "You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent" is aimed at potential foster and adoptive parents, but it is a slap in the face to real parents who are told by the state that they cannot parent their children because they are less than perfect.