Working with Families with Children/Parents with Developmental Disabilities

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. This program has been reviewed by the CEBC in the following Topic Areas:

About This Program

Target Population: Child welfare case workers, case aides, life skills workers and professionals from collateral agencies. Foster parents may attend.

Brief Description

This training is part of a more comprehensive professional training program that focuses on the intersection of intellectual disabilities and child protection issues. This two-day training (13 hours) is an overview of families with a member with an intellectual disability (ID) and is designed to familiarize professionals with the family’s strengths and needs. It focuses on the use of language, criteria to receive services for ID, common diagnostic categories and causes, multidisciplinary evaluations, risk for abuse for verbal and nonverbal children/adolescents, executive functioning, cultural factors, impact on families, resources, and parents with ID. There are two television-quality DVDs that are shown, When Parents Can’t Fix It and A Fair Chance.

Program Goals:

The goals of Working with Families with Children/Parents with Developmental Disabilities are:

  • Identify the basic criteria that must be met for a handicapping condition to be classified as a developmental disability
  • Describe the primary developmental disabilities, including Impairment in General Intellectual Functioning, epilepsy, autism, cerebral palsy, and other neurological disorders (spina bifida, brain damage, and muscular dystrophy), Down syndrome, Fragile X, and other handicapping conditions not solely physical in nature
  • Recognize that developmental disabilities can contribute to the cause of abusive or neglectful care, effect the presentation of abuse, or can be the result of abusive behavior
  • Describe the strengths and needs of families with a child and/or parent with a developmental disability and the importance of linking families with adequate formal and informal social supports
  • Recognize the strengths and issues of culture and social class in assessing possible developmental disabilities and suspected abuse and neglect, as well as the family's willingness to seek and accept help from the system
  • Identify early signs and symptoms of developmental disabilities and implement assessment and treatment strategies, including those aimed at the prevention of abusive and neglectful care
  • Collaborate and refer children for comprehensive evaluations; including medical, educational, social, psychological, and recreational services, when appropriate
  • Be aware of the negative attitudes and misconceptions regarding persons with developmental disabilities, including those who are parents, which may lead to a devaluing of families, minimization of the effects of abuse, and, ultimately, an impact on delivery of services

Essential Components

The essential components of Working with Families with Children/Parents with Developmental Disabilities include:

  • Led by a trainer who is an expert in the intersection of child welfare and intellectual disabilities
  • Focused on increasing the knowledge and skills of professionals working with families with intellectual disabilities (ID) in the child welfare system
  • Designed to better equip professionals to write realistic and appropriate treatment plans and provide specialized in-home services that support families and address the issues families with ID face
  • Designed to better equip professionals to work with parents who have children with ID and with parents with ID
  • Focused on the strengths and needs of families and individuals with ID and emphasize the coordination of services across service sectors
  • Provided as an introduction to families with a member with an intellectual disability:
    • Section One – Covers the criteria to receive services, the main congenital and acquired causes, identifying abuse and/or neglect for a child with ID
    • Section Two - Covers the impact on the family and the role that culture plays in child rearing, disciplining, accepting and seeking help for a member with ID
    • Section Three - Covers the types of community-based programs that often support families with ID
    • Section Four - Covers the strengths and challenges of parents with ID

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Birth Family Home
  • Community Agency
  • Foster/Kinship Care


This program does not include a homework component.


Working with Families with Children/Parents with Developmental Disabilities does not have materials available in a language other than English.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Participants of the training program receive a trainee manual and DVDs that they then should consult to help serve families with a member with intellectual disabilities.

Minimum Provider Qualifications

Any paraprofessional or professional working with families with a member with intellectual disabilities can attend this training. Child welfare workers must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Foster parents may attend as well.

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to implement this program, and there is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:

The training can be offered onsite as well as in Denver. To receive the training, the organization hosting the training will need a location with a training room, computer and DVD projector, trainer manual, trainee manual and DVDs.

Number of days/hours:

Two-day training for 13 hours

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

This program has been reviewed and it was determined that this program lacks the type of published, peer-reviewed research that meets the CEBC criteria for a scientific rating of 1 – 5. Therefore, the program has been given the classification of "NR - Not able to be Rated." It was reviewed because it was identified by the topic expert as a program being used in the field, or it is being marketed and/or used in California with children receiving services from child welfare or related systems and their parents/caregivers. Some programs that are not rated may have published, peer-reviewed research that does not meet the above stated criteria or may have eligible studies that have not yet been published in the peer-reviewed literature. For more information on the "NR - Not able to be Rated" classification, please see the Scientific Rating Scale.

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Working with Families with Children/Parents with Developmental Disabilities.


No reference materials are currently available for Working with Families with Children/Parents with Developmental Disabilities.

Contact Information

Virginia Cruz, MSW, DSW
Agency/Affiliation: The Social Work Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver
Phone: (303) 556-5362

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: February 2014

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: March 2016

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: March 2014