Victory for Parents with Disabilities!!!
Posted on May 11, 2011 by Megan Burke
Many of us take for granted the right to choose to start a family and raise children, a very natural part of life. However, people with disabilities have long faced societal prejudices which have created barriers to just that . . . the right to control their lives and choose to raise a family. Mike Parker powerfully stated, “A person without a disability is presumed to be a capable parent until proven otherwise. A person with a disability should not have to pass a test to become a parent.”
Today we celebrate! The Missouri legislature finally agreed and passed two bills (HB604 & HB648) which uphold the rights of parents with disabilities. In the state of MO a parent with a disability will no longer have their children taken from them just because they have a disability.
This new law is especially meaningful as we have worked with parents who have had their parenting ability questioned solely because they have a disability. While Paraquad was advocating for the parents’ rights law we became aware of an individual with a disability who is currently fighting for custody of her child. This individual has provided a loving, nurturing home for her family and is at risk of having her child taken from her just because she has a disability. This new law will put an end to a long drawn out battle of questioning her ability to raise her child. She will no longer have to live in fear that her child could be taken from her because she has a disability, and will be able to take back control over her life and that of her family’s.
We know that this law will help real people. Parents with disabilities report that they suffer prejudicial and discriminatory treatment from child protective services and the court system, and are more likely to have their children removed from their homes.[i] Between 40%-60% of children of parents who have a developmental or cognitive disability have been removed from their homes.[ii]
While it is maddening that parents with disabilities have to deal with these prejudices and judgments, there is hope in the fact that one more step has been taken in ensuring the rights of people with disabilities. The new law will take effect on August 28, 2011.