National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities


Welcome to our newsletter, where the National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities will share research-informed updates for parents with disabilities and professionals who work with parents with disabilities.

March 2020 Newsletter

This month, our updates include two new articles on the legal and healthcare needs of parents with disabilities, a new entry on our Community Blog, updates about state legislation, our next webinar, and our updated Spanish website.


Legal Needs of Parents with Psychiatric Disabilities

We are excited to share our newest publication, “Responding to the Legal Needs of Parents with Psychiatric Disabilities: Insights from Parents' Interviews.” Our researchers interviewed twelve former clients of a legal services program in Massachusetts that provides representation to clients

with disabilities. From the interviews, researchers identified the following themes: Clients with psychiatric disabilities reported that the legal profession lacks an understanding of mental health; they suggested that attorneys should provide parents with psychiatric disabilities services beyond litigation, including assistance with administrative tasks; and they shared that they may have ongoing legal needs, beyond those related to the child welfare system. These findings contain important implications for the legal profession. The article appeared in Law & Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice.

Health Disparities among Parents with Disabilities

In October of 2019, the National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities published an article entitled “Do disability, parenthood, and gender matter for health disparities?: A US population-based study.” Researchers analyzed data from more than 40,000 US parents and nonparents with and without disabilities. They found that parents with disabilities are at especially high risk of reporting frequent physical distress, smoking, and lack of sleep. They are also more likely to report higher Body Mass Index (BMI) scores. This article was published in the Disability and Health Journal, and suggests the need for policies and programs to address health related needs of parents with disabilities.


Check out our newest blog! Heather MacMurray is a mother with MS and she wrote the blog for this quarter, entitled “It’s Hard But It’s Worth It.” Are you a parent with a disability who would like to share your story?

Community Blog

Call for Submissions

Legislation Map

More than 25 states have introduced or passed legislation providing support for parents with disabilities. Our interactive map offers legislation summaries, status, disability types covered, and links to the full bills.

Recent updates include…

In 2019, Alabama passed House Bill 24, mandating that a parent’s blindness cannot be used to prevent visitation or custody in child welfare cases.

The Indiana Senate is currently considering a bill (Senate Bill 312) which would provide that the rights of a person with a disability to parent the person’s child may not be denied or restricted solely because the person has a disability.

Interactive Map

Summary of State Legislation


Did you know that we now have Spanish and English versions of our website? To access all of our resources in Spanish, visit the brand new Spanish website for the National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities.

About Us

The National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities is a collaborative research and advocacy project supporting parents with disabilities. Housed at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University’s Heller School, we collaborate with other institutions such as Northeastern University, University of Minnesota, and University of Michigan. Through research expertise and first-hand experience, we create a comprehensive resource for disabled parents, family members, clinicians, and policymakers Our advisory board is composed of parents with disabilities or their family members, and we are guided by the principle, “Nothing about us without us.”