How do I identify caregiver exploitation?

Disabled children may be victims of caregiver exploitation, whereupon a caregiver becomes overly controlling about who the disabled child is allowed to interact with or have relationships with. The care giver may isolate the disabled child using various methods of manipulation to sabotage the child’s relationship with others. The caregiver may engage in social engineering to deliberately gain the trust of the disabled child, or create mistrust between the child and other family members or friends. Usually the motive for caregiver exploitation is personal financial gain or use of the disabled child’s resources by the caregiver. The disabled child may be receiving financial benefits from government or personal sources. And as a result, the disabled child may become a victim of theft or fraud or ongoing inappropriate use of the disabled child’s money or resources. Disabled children need supervision, as they come to rely on caregivers and parents for their survival.  As a disabled child gets older, he/she may not always make the best choices of whom to befriend. Seeking and gaining acceptance from someone is generally the reason a disabled child is so vulnerable to opportunistic caregivers. Attentive families can prevent caregiver exploitation by identifying opportunistic behavior on the part of the caregiver and putting a stop to the relationship.


The crimes against children with disabilities are addressed in part by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Federal government recognizes that there is a relationship between being disabled and the increased risk for victimization from abuse. The Americans with Disabilities Act is not the only federal law that recognizes the need to advocate and protect children with disabilities that have been victims of crime. There is also the Crime Victims with Disabilities Act of 1998.      

Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer