Prevalence and outcomes for parents with disabilities and their children in an Australian court sample

Child Abuse Negl. 2003 Mar;27(3):235-51. doi: 10.1016/s0145-2134(03)00004-8.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to obtain sound prevalence and outcomes data on parents with disabilities and their children in statutory child protection proceedings.

Method: The court files of all care and protection matters initiated by the statutory child protection authority and finalized in a 9-month period (n=285) at two Children's Courts in NSW, Australia were reviewed.

Results: Parents with disabilities featured in almost one-third of the cases (29.5%). Parental psychiatric disability was most prevalent at 21.8% followed by parental intellectual disability (mental retardation) at 8.8%. Significant associations were found between parental disability and court outcome with a disproportionately large number of children of parents with intellectual disability being made wards of the state.

Conclusions: The findings demonstrate that parents with disabilities are significantly over-represented in statutory child protection proceedings and that the outcomes of these proceedings vary according to disability type.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Custody / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Child of Impaired Parents / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mentally Ill Persons / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Mentally Ill Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Prevalence