Dr. Laura Pacheco

Assistant Professor

School of Social Work
Memorial University
St. John's College, J-3002
Tel: (709) 864-2562  Email: lpacheco@mun.ca 

Dr. Laura Pacheco (she/her) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Memorial University. She holds a BSW and MSW from McGill University and a PhD in Rehabilitation Medicine from the University of Alberta. She is a first-generation settler and a guest on the ancestral homelands of the Mi'kmaq, the Beothuk, the Inuit and the Innu.

Laura uses structural, intersectionality and collaborative approaches within her research, pedagogy, practice and community engagement. Her doctoral research utilized narrative inquiry to explore the oppression and strategies of resistance of mothers with intellectual disability from diverse ethnocultural communities in Canada. Her post-doctoral work was embedded within a National SSHRC Partnership Development Grant project on the support needs and service pathways of parents with intellectual disability. The purpose of this study was to determine a strategy to build systems’ capacity to accommodate the support and learning needs of parents with intellectual impairment and, in turn, improve the life chances of their children in Canada.

Laura’s research interests are around reproductive justice and mothering with a disability, intersection of parenting with an intellectual disability and the child welfare system, structural and intimate partner violence against women with disabilities, intersecting identities and social justice, aging and neurodiversity, critically reflective practice and community engagement, narrative inquiry, critical discourse analysis and participatory approaches to research. Another focus of her research is on the health and social service system – roles of professionals, accessibility of services and the critical examination of professionals’ power and privilege. 

Prior to coming to Memorial in 2022, Laura was a social work clinician-researcher, advocate, and program coordinator for over fourteen years in an evidence-based and human rights oriented parenting service for persons with intellectual disabilities, their families and communities. She also taught at McGill and Brock University. She is an executive committee member of the International Association on the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability (IASSIDD), is consulted by government, community and legal systems and has conducted international trainings, workshops, and conferences within this field.

Laura’s teaching interests include: Social justice and anti-oppression in social work, critical thought, self-reflection and ethical social work practice, social work practice in diverse contexts with individuals, families, and communities, qualitative research in social work and critical disability studies. She hopes to expand student’s critical consciousness and social justice action across the field of social work.

Funded Research Projects:

2020–2023 Co-Investigator (PI: Dr. Shari Brotman). Fonds de Recherche du Quebec Actions Concertées, $149,705. The experiences of social exclusion and inclusion among neurodiverse older adults and their aging family caregivers.

2018–2021 Co-Applicant (PI: Dr. David McConnell). SSHRC Partnership Development Project, $193, 263. Support needs and service pathways of parents with intellectual impairments.

Selected Publications:

Pacheco, L., McConnell, D., Aunos, M., & Feldman, M. (2021), Reasonable Efforts? Child Maltreatment Investigations and Service Referrals of Parents with Cognitive Impairments in Canada, Child Maltreatment, https://doi.org/10.1177/10775595211001109.

Pacheco, L., Aunos, M., & Moore, R. (2021). Supported parenting in Canada, in Düber, M, Remhof, Riesberg, U, Rohrmann, A & Sprung, C (Editors) Supported parenting – challenges, developments and future perspectives, BELTZ, Weinheim.

McConnell, D., More, R., Pacheco,L., Aunos, M., & Feldman, M (2021). Childhood experiences, family support and parenting with an intellectual disability, Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Research, https://doi.org/10.3109/13668250.2021.1929880.

McConnell, D., Aunos, M., & Pacheco, L., Savage, A., Hahn, L., & Feldman, M (2021). Screening for parental intellectual disability: A first step in planning and delivering equitable family and social services, Journal of Family Social Work, 24 (1), 282-298.

Brotman,S., Sussman, T., Pacheco,L., Dickson,D., Lach,L., Raymond,E., Deshaies,M.H., Freitas, Z & Milot, E (2021). The Crisis Facing Older People Living with Neurodiversity and Their Aging Family Carers: A Social Work Perspective, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2021.1920537.

McConnell, D., Aunos, M., Pacheco, L., Hahn, L. (2020). Reconsidering Sexuality, Relationships, and Parenthood for Adults with Intellectual Disability, APA Handbook of Intellectual Disabilities, American Psychological Association.

Pacheco L., & McConnell D. (2017). Love and resistance of mothers with intellectual disability from ethnocultural communities in Canada., Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disability :1–10.

Selected Scholarly Presentations

Sphigelman, C-N, & Pacheco, L. (2022). Identity of Mothers with Intellectual Disability: A Bi-national Perspective-Israel and Canada, IASSIDD Parenting SIRG online Conference.

Pacheco, L., Aunos, M, Rice, J., Baldvins Bjagardottir, H & McConnell, D. (2021). Institutional injustice in the child welfare system: Exploring the research on parents with intellectual disability Roundtable, IASSIDD European Online Conference, Amsterdam.

Pacheco, L., Aunos, M., More, R., & Rose, R. (2021). Voiceless and Cast aside: Discourse analysis of Child Welfare Court Reports of mothers with Intellectual Disability, Oral presentation, IASSIDD European Congress, Online Presentation, Amsterdam.

Aunos, M., More, R., Rose, R & Pacheco, L. (2021) Love is not enough: Analyses of Court Reports on parents with IDD, Oral Presentation, Amsterdam.

Aunos, M., Spencer, M., Pacheco, L. (2020). Keynote: Complex needs or complex circumstances? The life situations of parents with IDD. 2nd Virtual Disability Conference, Australia.

Pacheco, L., Aunos, M., McConnell , D & Feldman, M. (2019) Understanding the training and resource needs of workers who support parents with intellectual disability, IASSIDD World Congress, Glasgow, Scotland.

Pacheco, L., & Aunos, M. (2019) Critically exploring parenting capacity assessments, Academy Workshop, IASSIDD World Congress, Glasgow, Scotland.

Pacheco, L., & Aunos, M. (2019) Perceived collaboration between specialized and child welfare agencies in the lives of parents with intellectual disability, IASSIDD World Congress, Glasgow, Scotland.

Pacheco, L., McConnell, D., Aunos, M., Feldman, M & Savage, A. (2017). Support needs and Service Pathways research launch, Montreal, Quebec.

Pacheco, L., Guay, A., & Aunos, M (2017). Parentalité et Déficience Intellectuelle: Introduction aux meilleures pratiques et outils. Présenté au colloque international Vie Affective, Sexuelle et Parentalité des Personnes avec une Déficience Intellectuelle, Bruxelles, Belgique.