Although the number of families headed by a parent with cognitive limitations is uncertain, it is estimated that at least one third of the families in the current child welfare system are families headed by a parent with cognitive limitations.[1]

People with cognitive limitations may have difficulty including but not limited to: planning; organizing; memory; regulating emotion; judgment; scheduling and keeping appointments and following through.  For parents, these limitations may result in problems  maintaining a home;  keeping their family together; communicating with their children's schools;  finding and/or keeping a job; and/or maintaining benefits for themselves or their child.

This population needs to be recognized as distinctive and in need of specific services tailored to its needs.  Currently, there are few community supports tailored to meet the on-going needs of these families who often require longer term services than most of our systems currently fund.  In addition, many of our systems fund services for an individual (e.g. child or substance abusing parent) but not for the family. These parents may not be identified or may be misidentified as mentally ill or as substance abusers. When they cannot meet the expectations of the available programs and services, including those designed for these other populations, these parents are often: labeled as "noncompliant", or "uncooperative" and considered "bad parents".

 

The Connecticut Parents with Cognitive Limitations Work Group (PWCL), a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary collaborative was formed in 2002 to address the cross-system barriers that these families confront as they try to negotiate the many systems involved in their lives. The Department of Children and Families serves as the Lead Agency.

 

[1] Azar, Sandra (2007)