Peer Reviewed Articles

  • Friesen, B., Nicholson, J., Kaplan, K. &Solomon, P. (2009). “Parents with a mental illness and implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, Monograph on ASFA.”  Washington, DC:  Center for the Study of Social Policy and The Urban Institute.
  • Kaplan, K., Kottsieper, P., Scott, J., Salzer, M., & Solomon, P. (2009). “Adoption and Safe Families Act State Statutes Regarding Parents with Mental Illnesses: A Review and Targeted Intervention.” Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 33(2), 91-94.
  • Park, M.J., Solomon, P. & Mandell, D.S. (2006). “Involvement in the Child Welfare System Among Mothers With Serious Mental Illness.” Psychiatric Services, 57 (4).
  • Park, J., Metraux, S. & Culhane, D. (2010). “Behavioral Health Services Use among Heads of Homeless and Housed Poor Families.” Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 21(2), 582-590.


Parenting With a Mental Illness

Parents who experience mental health conditions may have unique experiences and issues. Based on our research, this single page documents provides consumers, providers, policymakers, and other stakeholders with information about common barriers parents may face, supports that may be available, and how our parents might use resources from the Collaborative.

Peers In Practice: Parents with Mental Health Issues

Our first Peers in Practice document, written by Fred McLaren, MS, CPS, looks at the challenges of parenting with a mental health condition and the role Peer Specialists can play in supporting their clients with the needs and challenges of parenting.


A Model Reunification Statute

To help inform consumers, lawyers, mental health advocates, and legislators, the Temple University Collaborative and the Bazelon Center have created a model statute for state legislatures in developing more appropriate guidelines that encourage keeping families together rather than permitting the use of mental illness as grounds for denying custody rights to parents with disabilities.

Child Custody Laws

This brief fact sheet provides a national overview of child custody laws as they apply to the use of mental illnesses as grounds for denying custody to parents with psychiatric disabilities, as well as recommendations for challenging current discriminatory laws through education (of lawyers and judges), public awareness, and legislative change.

Myths About Parents with Mental Illnesses

This brief fact sheet looks at the prevailing myths about parents with mental illnesses (e.g., that they are unwilling or unable to care adequately for their own children, etc.) with the evidence-based facts with regard to parenting performance and long-term outcomes – a useful guide to consumers and advocates

Foster Care and Custody

This brief fact sheet provides an overview of national and state foster care services and the way in which foster care systems interact with children and parents when the parents have been denied custody of their own children due to mental illnesses.  Suggestions are provided for parents and others interacting with foster care providers.

Trauma: The Impact of Removing Children from the Home

This brief fact sheet provides an overview of current research that explores the impact of removing children from the home, with an emphasis on the trauma experiences in those instances where children have been removed due to court determination that the parent is unable to care for their children due to mental illness.

Supporting Parents with Psychiatric Disabilities:  A Training Program for MH Personnel.

The Temple University Collaborative has developed an intensive training program to assist mental health workers in supporting parents with psychiatric disabilities to be better parents and to avoid the loss of custody of their children.  The materials provided here can be used to structure training programs or as individual resources for staff and parents.

Helping Behavioral Health Consumers with Parenting/Child Custody Issues – Training Manual

This in-depth manual provides a detailed guideline for trainers developing programs to assist consumers with psychiatric disabilities in improving their parenting skills, learning more about child custody issues, and either avoiding the loss of custody of their children or regaining custody of their children – with curriculum, PowerPoints, and exercises.

Helping Behavioral Health Consumers with Parenting/Child Custody Issues – PowerPoints

The Temple University Collaborative’s training program PowerPoint presentations and training notes provide a step-by-step guideline to initial training for mental health personnel working to help consumers with psychiatric disabilities improve their parenting and avoid the loss of custody of their children.

Helping Behavioral Health Consumers with Parenting/Child Custody Issues – Group Exercises

The Temple University Collaborative’s training program included a number of large group and small group exercises to assist staff in preparing to work with consumers with psychiatric disabilities who are parents:  a number of the exercises are available here, to be used in conjunction with the overall training program and PowerPoint provided above.

Custody Assessment Worksheet

This worksheet allows mental health personnel to make a comprehensive assessment of particular parents’ child custody arrangement, which may be complicated, as an aide to working with parents to improve parenting skills and prevent loss of custody.

Child Welfare and Custody issues

This fact sheet is designed for parents and their supporters and provides tips for navigating the child welfare and legal systems, if the parents’ custody rights are challenged:  an important document for parents with psychiatric disabilities in facing system discrimination.

Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect Laws In Pennsylvania – A Training Handout

Dev eloped by a leader in the field of families and couples dealing with mental illnesses and child custody issues, this is a key guide for parents who have lost custody or are facing the possibility of custody loss:  it includes a detailed overview of what constitutes child abuse and neglect in Pennsylvania, as well as a discussion of parents’ rights with regard to custody and family reunification.

Positive Parenting and Child Resilience – A Training Handout

This fact sheet provides evidence-based guidance to parents with regard to effective ways to provide ‘positive parenting’ that can increase resiliency in children and also prevent custody loss.

A Parenting Resources Worksheet

This worksheet provides a template for services to generate a list of local resources for parents with psychiatric disabilities, including legal, housing, emergency respite services, and childcare, etc.

Keeping Your Children and Getting Them Back: Section I – Guidebook

This trainers’ guide provides a comprehensive overview for training mental health personnel to assist consumers with psychiatric disabilities in learning more about child abuse laws and the child custody issues with which they must be aware – developed by consultants to the Temple University Collaborative.

Keeping Your Children and Getting Them Back: Section II – Handouts

This addendum to Section I provides access to key handouts for the training program on Keeping Your Children and Getting Them Back, including handouts on: a) Child Welfare and Custody Issues, Positive Parenting and Child Resilience, A Parenting Resources Worksheet, and a listing of Additional Resources for Parents.


Other Parenting Resources

Parenting with a Mental Illness: Proceedings of a Teleconference

Sponsored by Mental Health America Affiliates, this teleconference for their affiliates – on May 9, 2007 – was designed to increase participants’ knowledge about:  custody issues for parents with psychiatric disabilities; strategies to address barriers to custody; and appropriate supports for parents:  these PowerPoints provide an overview of the teleconference’s proceedings.

Preventing Custody Loss: Suggestions for Parents with Psychiatric Disabilities

The best way to prevent custody loss is to have a plan that helps consumers improve their parenting skills while managing their disability:  this brief tool provides suggestions on how to create a plan to protect the best interests of your child and to demonstrate your maturity as a parent.

Learn About Special Needs Trusts

A Special Needs Trust can be created by a parent or guardian to benefit a person with a disability upon the death of a parent, allowing consumers to benefit from the trust while continuing to receive public benefits.  These materials were developed by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law with support from the Temple University Collaborative.