In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Child Welfare and Parents with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews

Social Work Child Welfare and Parents with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities
Traci LaLiberte, Kristine Piescher
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 April 2024
  • LAST MODIFIED: 19 April 2024
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0333


The articles contained in this bibliography are positioned within the past twenty years of research literature. The bibliography begins by highlighting three special issues dedicated to parenting with IDD. Next are articles focused more broadly in the area of parenting with IDD, examining what is known about parents living with this particular type of disability, the attitudes and biases directed toward this group of parents, and the experiences and outcomes of children raised by parents with IDD. The second section of the bibliography focuses more specifically on parenting with IDD and the times when child welfare services become involved. The works presented in this bibliography represent an international community of researchers and reflect experiences of parents with IDD that are similar across the world. That said, research articles and professional reports on parenting with IDD are largely authored within the context of the Global North, leaving little known about this population in the Global South (previously referred to as “developing countries”). The field of child welfare has largely ignored the need to understand the population of parents with IDD and struggled to train its professionals and collaborative partners in effective practices for working with parents with IDD. In fact, not all countries have adopted common disability language or definitions. For instance, some follow the language of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), while others simply do not. Thus, the literature describing the intersection of disability and child welfare is not consistent over time or geographical location with respect to definitions, making it hard to compare across studies (e.g., prevalence of disability in child welfare). Language (and therefore policy) also differs around the world as it relates to parenting with intellectual differences. Frameworks for understanding the characteristics, abilities, experiences, and outcomes of these parents include intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD), cognitive impairments, and learning difficulties. In some cases, “learning difficulties” is used to be more inclusive, particularly for parents who have intellectual and/or developmental differences that may have not received a disability diagnosis. For the remainder of this article, “IDD” will be used as a broad umbrella term inclusive of the aforementioned frameworks.

General Overviews

In recent years, three special issues in the professional and scholarly literature have been dedicated to the topic of parenting with IDD: Llewellyn, et al. 2008; LaLiberte, et al. 2013; and LaLiberte and Lightfoot 2013. The earliest of these issues focuses on parenting with IDD generally, followed by a focus on the intersection of parents with IDD and the child welfare system in later issues.

  • LaLiberte, T., T. Crudo, and H. Ombisa Skallet, eds. 2013. Special issue: The intersection of child welfare and disability: Focus on parents. CW360°: The Intersection of Child Welfare and Disability: Focus on Parents (Fall 2013)

    This issue of the CW360° practice journal explores the intersection of child welfare and parental disability. Articles include an overview of the prevalence and population of parents with disabilities in child welfare, practice strategies and policy recommendations for supporting parents with disabilities, and innovative examples of collaboration and communication across systems.

  • LaLiberte, L., and L. Lightfoot, eds. 2013. Special issue: Child welfare and disabilities. Journal of Public Child Welfare 7.5.

    This special issue of the Journal of Public Child Welfare provides research dedicated to describing the ways in which current knowledge, practices, and policies need modification and/or improvement as they pertain to public child welfare. The issue is divided into two separate sections: “Children with Disabilities in Child Welfare” and “Parents with Disabilities in Child Welfare.”

  • Llewellyn, G., R. Mayes, and D. McConnell, eds. 2008. Special issue: Parenting by people with intellectual disability. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities 21.4.

    This special issue of the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities updates research from an initial special issue from the Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability around parenting with intellectual disabilities (1999).

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