First recognized in 1987, Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month was established to increase public awareness of the needs and the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines developmental disabilities as impairments in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. This includes autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning or intellectual disabilities, hearing loss, and vision impairment. Each March, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) leads a campaign to highlight the ways in which people with and without disabilities unite to form strong communities.

This is an important month for the field of child welfare, as research and evidence show there are high numbers of people with disabilities involved in the child welfare system. Thus, it is critical that child welfare professionals are able to work effectively with families that include people with disabilities to promote positive outcomes for all aspects of their lives.

Our partners at the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) created the Disability Child Welfare Collaborative (DCWC) in 2011 to bring together practitioners and researchers from various fields to work toward improving outcomes for children and parents with disabilities involved in the child welfare system. Their website has great resources including answers to common questions, publications, and more.

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