Attention Massachusetts Residents:
Please take a moment to call or email your state Senator and Representative and ask them to cosponsor HD. 1584 (Lead Sponsor: Rep. Heroux) and SD. 1110 (Lead Sponsor: Sen. L’Italien): An Act prohibiting discrimination against adults with disabilities in family and juvenile court proceedings. This legislation will protect the rights of parents with disabilities in child welfare (DCF) and family law (custody and visitation).
Here are a few key talking points:
- Parents with disabilities lose their children at alarming rates. Parents with disabilities are more likely to lose custody of their children after divorce. Removal rates by child welfare of children from parents with psychiatric or intellectual disabilities is as high as 70-80%. Parents with sensory or physical disabilities also experience extremely high removal rates and loss of their parental rights.
- HD.1584/SD.1110 will require courts to determine whether or not a parent’s disability causes harm to their child, by requiring written findings when courts rely on a parent’s disabilityas a negative factor in a custody or visitation determination. This law will also require courts to determine whether the harm to the child can be alleviated by adaptive equipment or supportive services for the parent.
- Disability alone is not a reason. Reliance on a parent’s disability without explanation is illegal discrimination. Nearly 27 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), adults with disabilities have increased protections in education and work life, but parents with disabilities are still at significant risk to lose their children. A decision to terminate parental rights, remove custody or deny parenting time to a parent based solely on their disability status violates the ADA.
- Keeping families together is good for children. Extensive research shows that children fare better when they remain with their parents. But children of parents with disabilities continue to be inappropriately removed from their homes or separated from their parents without a determination of how the parent’s disability affects their ability to parent.
- HD.1584/SD.1110 is consistent with current Massachusetts case law, federal and state anti-discrimination law, and a trend in state family law.
- HD.1584/SD.1110 will not cost the state money and may even save the state money by preventing unnecessary foster care placements.
To find your legislators’ contact info, visit: https://malegislature.gov
J mitchell says
I’m a disabled parent whose son was taken at age day 6. 2 years Later after dcf placed him in a non English speaking home where he was denied medical care, not given a helmet to correct the harm that was being done to him until it was to late. My visitation has shrunk to 1.5 hours a week, which I have to pay for the state wants to terminate my rights. It took 6 months but we got him to parents, now dcf is trying to put a 20 month old baby and place him in a group home. I would like to share my story with you becuase I might have some useful information and love my son. No parent, child, human, should have to go through this. I want to help but also need some help.
Corey Spaulding says
Did anyone reach out to you? Please contact the DOJ civil rights USAMA.CivilRights@usdoj.gov -they are currently investigating MA DCF.
Email is the best way to document you contacted DOJ and depending on your disability, serves to memorialize an accurate description of the issue.
I am disabled with communication issues involving memory and hearing/processing so I rely on emails.
I am one of MANY parents working with the DoJ to make DCF accountable to ADA law. My son has been in DCF custody for 4 years and even after DCF signed the latest agreement with the DOJ I have seen no changes in my case and I am being told that the DOj will prosecute . This is breech of contract. I want to help make these changes law!
I lost custody of my son when he was 6 years old solely because I am disabled. Both my attorney and me were told this by my social worker. He is still in custody 3 years later with no end in sight. DCF has an ada meeting and NO accommodations were made. If anything DCF has made my parenting plan a setup for failure. I don’t drive due to my disability. My son is a residential student and also disabled. No measures were taken to put services in place before they made their decision to kidnap my child . This is gut wrenching. It’s bad enough being diagnosed with a disabling disease, but I feel like the state is punishing me for it.