A report released by the National Council on Disability (NCD) September 27 has received accolades from disability organizations and people with disabilities across the United States. NCD's report "Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children," the first of its kind issued by a federal agency, examines the discrimination faced by the more than four million parents with disabilities in raising their families. Estimates indicate 6.1 million children in the U.S. have parents with disabilities. This amounts to nearly 1 in 10 American children.
NCD is a nonpartisan, independent federal agency made up of 15 Presidentially-appointed Council Members and supporting staff that advises the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policy, programs and services. In our federal advisory role, we engage regularly with community groups, non-profits and charity organizations. NCD is not a non-profit. As an independent federal agency, NCD does not represent the views of any political party.
In the report, NCD reveals that parents with disabilities are the only distinct community of Americans who must struggle to retain custody of their children. Removal rates run as high as 80 percent among parents with a psychiatric or intellectual disability. It also shines a spotlight on the hidden hardships faced by parents struggling to keep their children, adopt children, or even access reproductive assistance.
"Rocking the Cradle" ends on a hopeful note by sharing parental success stories and making recommendations for ways state and federal government can correct unjust practices.
Support from the disability community has affirmed the overdue need for NCD's report and its findings:
Stories of real parents with disabilities inform and personalize the broader issues covered in the report. Among them:
"Currently, every state allows disability to be used when determining parental rights in family or dependency court without additional cause or concern. Whether actions are taken at the state or federal level the need to correct this unfair bias could not be more urgent or clear," said Janice Lehrer-Stein, Vice Chair of the National Council on Disability, the independent federal agency that issued the report. "The positive response to "Rocking the Cradle" from disability groups, parents with disabilities and service agencies from across the nation confirms the need we saw to do this report and further bolsters our commitment to ensuring the rights of parents with disabilities and their families."
About the report: "Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children" explores the pervasive prejudices faced by parents with disabilities by exposing the disparate treatment often encountered by parents with disabilities and their children within court and service systems and offers draft model state and federal statutory language to correct the discrimination faced by parents with disabilities in the United States.
NCD thanks: Through the Looking Glass, the NIDRR-funded National Center for Parents with Disabilities and Their Families, for their valuable assistance in writing sections of this report. Their insight and guidance during the research and drafting of "Rocking the Cradle" was instrumental in its development and completion.
Full report is available on NCD's website at: www.ncd.gov/publications/2012/Sep272012/