February 01, 2015

Checklist: Representing Parents with Disabilities

The views expressed herein have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association, and accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association.

Seek modifications and accommodations.

Dependency court

  • Show the parent’s success at using a service.
  • Identify services/accommodations not being provided.
  • Ensure accommodations are in the service plan early.
  • Ask the caseworker why services and accommodations are not being provided.

Family court

  • Focus on the parent’s ability to mitigate harm to child.
  • Seek court-related accommodations.

Be a zealous parent advocate.

Know your client.

  • Know what medications your client is taking.
  • Know your client’s providers and support networks.
    Encourage providers and supportive people to advocate for the parent.
  • Focus on parenting strengths and abilities, not the parent’s disability alone.
  • Ensure quality parent evaluations are used.
  • Be weary of parent IQ testing.

Scrutinize parent evaluations and assessments.

  • Ensure based parent assessments are evidence-based.
  • Ensure parent evaluators have experience and specialized training.