Technical assistance issued regarding civil rights of parents and prospective parents with disabilites

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) are issuing this technical assistance to assist state and local child welfare agencies and courts to ensure that the welfare of children and families is protected in a manner that also protects the civil rights of parents and prospective parents with disabilities.

  • All activities of child welfare agencies are covered by Title II and Section 504, including removal proceedings and agencies’ programs and activities must not discriminate on the basis of disability.
  • Child welfare agencies must refrain from using minor children as interpreters except in limited exigent circumstances.  Adult companions may be used as interpreters only in emergencies and only when other factors are met.
  • Child welfare agencies should consult with and include organizations that support and advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities in their policy-making and training efforts.
  • Title II and Section 504 require that agency staff refrain from basing assessments, services, or decisions on assumptions, generalizations, or stereotypes about disability
  • Child welfare agencies should take steps to ensure that their obligations under Title II and Section 504 are met by reviewing the following:
      • existing policies, practices, and procedures;
      • how the agency actually processes cases;
      • the agency’s licensing and eligibility requirements for foster parents and guardians; and
      • whether there are staff training or professional development needs
  • Child welfare agencies may be required to modify their own services, or, when necessary, to arrange for services outside of the agency, in order to ensure equal opportunity for parents and prospective parents with disabilities under Title II and Section 504.