Photo of Kaitlyn Hartmann

Kaitlyn Hartmann

  • Hosted by The Bronx Defenders
  • Sponsored by KPMG, The Sidley Austin Foundation
  • Service location Bronx, New York
  • Law school The George Washington University Law School
  • Issue area Disability Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Kaitlyn provided targeted representation to parents with physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities in child welfare cases so that they have an equal opportunity to maintain family integrity.

As a result of uninformed child welfare policies and the mistaken belief that people with disabilities are unfit to parent, parents with disabilities are disproportionately referred to child welfare services and experience removal of their children in up to 80% of cases. Yet studies have consistently found that there is no relationship between intelligence and parenting capabilities. Under Title II of Americans with Disabilities Act, parents with disabilities are entitled to protection from unlawful discrimination in the administration of child welfare programs. Despite their ADA protections, parents with disabilities rarely receive the accommodations to which they are entitled, which leads to the unnecessary separation of their families. Specialized representation of parents with disabilities that is grounded in access to appropriate resources, disability experts, and practice guides will improve attorneys’ abilities to demand the proper accommodations their clients need to overcome barriers to reunifying their families.

Fellowship Highlights

During the Fellowship period, Kaitlyn:

  • Provided full representation to over 88 clients in child welfare cases
  • Assisted 20 parents in reunifying with their children
  • Assisted 42 parents successfully resolving and closing their child welfare cases
  • Surveyed the services available to support parents with disabilities
  • Provided training on the ADA for lawyers and advocates

Next Steps

Kaitlyn continues practicing at The Bronx Defenders as a staff attorney in their Family Defense Practice. Kaitlyn also continues her work representing parents with disabilities, as well as other parents involved in child welfare cases in the Bronx.

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