CAFCASS Has No Disability Training But Uses Disability Against Parents Anyway
When challenging authorities over why they continuously bring up parental disability in child custody proceedings as if it were a risk factor for abuse, I am constantly told that they *have to* bring up disability to assess 'capacity', as per the Children's Act 1989.
CAFCASS admitted in a freedom of information request that they don't even have any disabled parenting training for their staff because they focus on the children - yet if parental disability was as irrelevant as they imply, they shouldn't be allowed to bring it up in custody hearings.
CAFCASS wrote in a letter dated 1st February 2017:
CAFCASS does not have specific training materials on parental disability. CAFCASS does not specifically focus on this issue as the focus for CAFCASS practitioners is the needs of the individual children and any recommendations will be based on the professional judgement of the child's welfare. CAFCASS.......workers are expected to have the ability to consider the impact of disability upon parenting capacity in any event.,'
CAFCASS Admitting They Have No Disability Training and Rely on the Opinion of Untrained Staff
The trouble, of course, is that they are relying on the professional judgement of staff who are completely untrained in the area of disabled parenting and the discrimination issues we face. They may never have encountered a disabled parent in their career and will also be carrying their own personal prejudices about it, including unconscious emotional reactions to seeing someone with a physically noticeable disability. Social services, too, has a notorious reputation for removing children from disabled families and having a dim view of their capabilities as a parent so the fact that they are social workers is anything but comforting.
" Both social care and legal professionals often hold the views that disabled parents are considered to be in need of 'care' rather than in need of assistance; and that their children would be better off with a non-disabled parent."
Indeed, even this statement is presumptive because very many disabled parents live completely independently and don't require any assistance at all.
Expecting that a disabled parent dealing with an 'abled' CAFCASS worker would in any way be treated equally when that person has undergone no disability training is ridiculous.
"They love their children as much as we love ours....their own families often challenge their custody, No one believes in them, not even their own lawyers or therapists, they are bitter that they are lumped in with parents who hurt their children, they will never forget their children or stop trying to get them back no matter what is said about the statute of limitations, they say there is no life without their children, they would rather have received a death penalty, they say they were molested in foster care, in institutions, poor, abused, beaten by parents and husbands and boyfriends, but they still find the strength to love someone.".
Although the quote is from the USA, the issues are faced by disabled parents everywhere.
Makes you sick, doesn't it?
So I decided to check the 'welfare checklist' that CAFCASS say tells them they must question disabled parents. Point F of this checklist says this:
'How capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;'
Nowhere in the paragraph does it mention disability. Assessing capability means whether you drink or take drugs or are violent and whether you can provide a loving home and is not based on your physical attributes! Authorities assuming they have to include disability only proves a point - that there is a widespread belief that disabled = unfit.