Technical assistance issued jointly this month from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services clarifies that children should not be taken from their moms or dads simply because a parent has a disability. Similarly, federal officials said that people with disabilities should not face added barriers to becoming foster or adoptive parents due solely to their special needs.
The move comes in response to an increasing number of discrimination complaints that the federal agencies say they’ve received from people with disabilities.
“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 and Human Services.
The 18-page document sent to child welfare agencies and courts across the nation offers specifics about how such entities should go about their duty to safeguard children while also meeting their obligations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.