National Center for Parents with Disabilities and their Families

There are more than 4 million U.S. parents with disabilities with children under age 18, and several million more parents with disabilities who have adult children.  In 1998, TLG became the first National Center for Parents with Disabilities, initially funded under a three-year grant from the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education. Since that time, TLG has received additional funding from NIDRR as well as other sources to continue our national work concerning parents with disabilities and their families. The National Center offers consultations, trainings and publications to parents, family members and professionals. Most of these services are free, including consultations by phone or email as well as publications via mail, email or our website.

TLG’s National Center is staffed by nationally recognized experts regarding parents with disabilities, most of whom have personal or family experience with disability or deafness. The National Center builds upon TLG’s nationally and internationally recognized expertise and leadership in working with parents with disabilities, their families, and their providers -- 33 years of groundbreaking research, services, training, and resource development.

In December 2011, Through the Looking Glass and its National Center for Parents with Disabilities was awarded a five-year 2.5 million dollar federal grant to conduct research, training and provide consultations and materials regarding families in which an infant, child, parent or grandparent has a disability.  This new national project titled “Families with Disabilities through the Life Cycle: Disability Culture Perspectives” is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Over these five years, project activities will focus on critical issues that impact families with disabilities across the lifespan: from those disabled and non-disabled parents who are at the initial stages of having an infant with a disability through children with disabilities growing up to parents and grandparents with disabilities.  In keeping with Through the Looking Glass’ 33 years of groundbreaking research, training and clinical intervention work, project activities will address family members with diverse disabilities and draw from the experiences and perspectives of the Disability and Deaf communities.  Among the innovative activities planned are:

* Free consultations to parents, family members and professionals regarding families with disabilities across the lifespan.
* 8 National Research Studies regarding national statistics, discriminatory practices and appropriate resources for families with disabilities.
* Training and resource materials for more than 2,000 Early Head Start programs and Independent Living Centers throughout the U.S. regarding parents with disabilities or deafness and their children.
* Legal research and consultations for parents with disabilities involved in custody situations.
* Scholarships for high school seniors and college students who have a parent with a disability
* Training and tools for occupational therapists to support parents with disabilities
* Expertise to inform federal and international policies regarding the rights of parents with disabilities.
* Research regarding innovative techniques to help parents with intellectual disabilities be more responsive to their babies.

* Online reviews of equipment and adaptations designed to help grandparents with disabilities care for their grandchildren.

* Trainings to professionals from Japan regarding services to infants and families with disabilities.

TLG's National Center continues TLG's overall mission of empowering parents and potential parents with disabilities by disseminating disability-appropriate information regarding parenting to parents, disability advocates, and legal, medical, intervention and social services providers. The National Center's overall goal is to increase information and support more disability-appropriate resources for parents with disabilities and their children throughout the U.S.

TLG has been serving ethnically diverse families in which parents have all categories of disability: physical, vision, cognitive/learning, medical, psychiatric, as well as deafness. TLG is a disability culture and Deaf culture-based agency which is part of the independent living movement. Its staff has trained more than 225,000 professionals regarding parents with disabilities and deaf parents, from all U.S. states and 50 countries. Since 1993, TLG has provided technical assistance to over 50,000 parents with disabilities, family members, and professionals.

In recent years TLG has provided custody technical assistance to over 1,000 contacts annually. Its expertise has contributed to the passage of legislation in three states to decrease discrimination against parents with disabilities.