Barriers and Facilitators to Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act by the Child Welfare System: Insights from Interviews with Disabled Parents, Child Welfare Workers, and Attorneys

61 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2020 Last revised: 5 Apr 2021

See all articles by Robyn Powell

Robyn Powell

Stetson University College of Law; Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Sasha Albert

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Date Written: February 10, 2021

Abstract

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed thirty years ago with the promise of “equality of opportunity” for people with disabilities. Notwithstanding, a nascent body of scholarship indicates that parents with disabilities experience substantial and pervasive inequities within the child welfare system, and that the ADA is often disregarded or misapplied by child welfare agencies and courts. Yet, despite extensive legal and social science scholarship about child welfare system involvement among parents with disabilities, no studies have empirically examined why the ADA is not effectively safeguarding the rights of parents with disabilities.

This Article responds to that scholarly void and offers novel and critically needed data on the barriers and facilitators to compliance with the ADA by the child welfare system. This Study draws qualitative data from forty-five in-depth interviews with parents with disabilities, child welfare workers, and parents’ attorneys. Three themes emerged from the data indicating barriers and facilitators that affect compliance with the ADA by the child welfare system. First, knowledge, training, and information about the ADA by parents with disabilities, child welfare workers, and legal professionals impede or enable ADA compliance. Second, institutional support—especially well-defined agency policies and procedures about the ADA, agency culture and leadership, and resource availability—impact compliance with the ADA. Third, factors related to the legal and social context in which cases involving disabled parents occur—particularly tensions between children’s rights and parents’ rights and issues relating to the intersection between disability and child welfare law—are barriers or facilitators to ADA compliance. This Article concludes by identifying critical areas for further research and discussing the policy and practice implications of the findings.

Keywords: disability law, child welfare, family law, qualitative

JEL Classification: K36, K10, K49

Suggested Citation

Powell, Robyn and Albert, Sasha, Barriers and Facilitators to Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act by the Child Welfare System: Insights from Interviews with Disabled Parents, Child Welfare Workers, and Attorneys (February 10, 2021). 32 Stanford Law & Policy Review 119, Stetson University College of Law Research Paper No. 2021-4, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3679229

Robyn Powell (Contact Author)

Stetson University College of Law ( email )

1401 61st Street South
Gulfport, FL 33707
United States

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management ( email )

MA
United States

Sasha Albert

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 549110/MS 035
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02454
United States

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