The number of families headed by a parent with a disability has increased substantially during the past century, particularly those headed by parents with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (Tymchuck, Llewellyn, & Feldman, 1999). However, many state statutes still include parents’ disabilities as grounds for termination of parental rights (TPR). This study searched the state codes of the fifty states and the District of Columbia relating to TPR. The majority of states include parents’ disabilities in their codes as grounds for TPR if a disability impacts a parent’s ability to care for his or her child or as a condition to take into consideration when determining whether a person is unfit to parent. As of August 2005, 37 states included disability-related grounds for TPR while 14 states did not include disability language as grounds for termination. From this study, it appears many states include disability inappropriately in their TPR statutes, including using inappropriate, outdated terminology to refer to a person’s disability; and using imprecise definitions of disability. The use of disability language in TPR statutes can put an undue focus on the condition of having a disability rather than their parenting behavior.
Lightfoot, E, Hill, K., & LaLiberte, T. (2010). The inclusion of disability as a condition for termination of parental rights. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(12), 927-934.
Lightfoot, Elizabeth; Hill, Katharine; LaLiberte, Traci.
The Inclusion of Disability as a Condition for Termination of Parental Rights.
Child Abuse & Neglect.
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