Developmental Disabilities and Foster Care

Foster care is a temporary arrangement that gives youth a safe place to live when their parents or family of origin are unable to safely care for them. The ultimate goal is to safely reunite a child with their family and to make a positive, long-lasting change in their lives. When parents and/or children with a developmental disability enter the foster care system, both placement and reunification can be challenging. This mini-documentary storytelling series features various perspectives of those with backgrounds in the foster care system including disability advocacy, child welfare, disability services, foster family recruitment and retention, and a lived experience.  Prefer a podcast? You can listen to the series here via a full-length podcast.

Why you should watch

  • -Understand that we are facing a shortage of foster families and resources nationwide and that the deficit is even greater for adolescents with disabilities who need placement.
  • -Learn about how you can make an impact in your community to support children with developmental disabilities who are facing out-of-home placement.
  • -Introduce yourself to disability prejudgment of parents who have developmental disabilities.
  • -Discover that there are resources and organizations that have a goal to reunify a child with their family while ensuring safety.

Who should watch

  • -Parents of children with developmental disabilities;
  • -Families who may have children in the foster care system or are at risk of entering the foster care system,
  • -Individuals interested in becoming a foster parent;
  • -Child protection entities;
  • -Professionals that support people with disabilities;
  • -Advocacy organizations; and
  • -Disability organizations.


Disability Advocacy perspective: Meet Alison Butler Esq. Alison has extensive experience with disability-related issues and is knowledgeable on a multitude of disability topics, including discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and general disability awareness. She has a history of advocating for the rights of people with disabilities through legislative and committee work.


Lived Experience Perspective: Meet Andrew. Andrew is a young man who identifies as a little person who has a developmental disability. He shared that he entered foster care because his birth mother hurt him. Andrew was in foster care until he was four years old, and lived in four foster homes in just his first year. When he turned six, he was adopted by the Limbaugh Family. He said being adopted is one of his best memories, and loves being a Limbaugh. SPECIAL NOTE: Please turn on closed captioning to fully receive Andrew’s story.


Foster Care Program Perspective: Meet Jaalah Neerhof and Hayley Wolfe from the Collaborative Foster Care Program (CFCP). CFCP was created in August 2008 as a joint venture between Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties in Colorado to assure that foster parents have adequate training, support, and resources to promote the child’s best interest.


Child Welfare Caseworker perspective: Meet Lacey Settle. Lacey works for Arapahoe County Human Services in Colorado. She and her department assist in mistreatment, abuse, and neglect cases involving youth and help place children in safe home environments. Caseworkers also attend court, help arrange foster homes for children, facilitate transitions, assist families through the fostering processes, and help reunite families.


Disability Services Liaison perspective: Meet Sarah Little. Sarah is a liaison between the case management agency, Developmental Pathways, and local Human Services agencies for children with developmental disabilities who require out-of-home placement and support. Developmental Pathways is one of Colorado’s Community Centered Boards (CCB) connecting people to federal, state, county, and private funding in Arapahoe County, Douglas County, Elbert County, and the City of Aurora.