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Keeping Families Together

Preserving the Rights of Parents with Psychiatric Disabilities

By Jennifer Mathis

Parents with psychiatric disabilities lose their children through child welfare proceedings at an alarmingly high rate. Negative stereotypes of people with psychiatric disabilities are still prevalent in the child welfare system. Under many state laws, mental illness is a ground for removing custody from a parent or terminating parental rights. Federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act provide some protections, but parents are often unaware of their rights. Advocates who understand the legal framework can make a real difference.

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