Jessica P. v. Department of Child Safety

State: Arizona

Filed: March 23, 2020

Court: Arizona Court of Appeals

Overview: The brief supports the appeal of a parental rights termination order by a mother with intellectual disability (ID) who did not receive reasonable accommodations from the child welfare agency. The brief focuses on social science research discussing the ability of people with ID to parent and explains that (1) people with ID have a wide range of abilities and challenges and their needs must be assessed individually and holistically in parental termination cases; (2) people with ID have long faced discrimination and other obstacles to having and parenting children; (3) people with ID can and do parent successfully.

Excerpt: “Each day, parents with intellectual disability contend with prejudicial child welfare practices based on the presumption that they are unfit to parent. While some persons with intellectual disability may be unable to parent safely, all parents with intellectual disability deserve the opportunity to establish that they can parent, and access to the services and supports that they need to do so, if they can. Persons with intellectual disability are a heterogeneous group, with a wide range of strengths and needs, and they, like all parents, must be assessed and treated as individuals. Far too often, they are not. Although current social science establishes that parents with intellectual disability are not inherently unable to parent and that they can learn and apply new parenting skills, as well as telling us what services and supports work best for these parents, parents with intellectual disability remain subject to longstanding, prejudicial assumptions about their inability to parent. If we are to give parents with intellectual disability and their children a full and equal opportunity to preserve their families, we must dispel these assumptions.”

Case Documents

Jessica P. Amicus Brief