BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) recently testified in support of legislation that would strengthen protections for persons with disabilities. The Moore-sponsored bill would direct the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to establish a registry that identifies individuals who have been found to have committed abuse against persons with disabilities.
According to a recent U.S. Department of Justice report, persons with disabilities were victimized in violent crimes at the rate of 2.5 times that of the general population. The bill would require DDS to establish and maintain a registry of former employees who have been terminated or separated from employment as a result of abuse directed toward a person with a disability. The bill resembles protections already enacted in at least 12 other states. Massachusetts currently possesses a similar registry for childcare employees.Senator Moore filed the legislation in response to meeting with Cheryl Chan, an Auburn resident whose developmentally disabled son, Nicky, was physically abused by a caretaker at a day program. While a report was filed by the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, there are no procedures currently in place that would ensure the caretaker is prevented from continuing a career within the field.
“I won’t take a back seat when it comes to advocating for greater protections for the disability community,” said Senator Moore. “Establishing a registry will help protect persons with disabilities from falling victim to abusive treatment. There are clear benefits to screening prospective employees who intend to work within the licensed caretaker field and I am hopeful that the Committee will advance this legislation to help protect our most vulnerable residents like Nicky.”
“Nicky’s Law is The Arc’s highest priority legislation for the current legislative session,” said Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for The Arc of Massachusetts which is advocating for passage of the bill. “We have worked closely with Senator Moore leading up to today’s hearing, and we are hopeful that the bill will be passed this session. There is no doubt that the disability community strongly supports the creation of a registry to track individuals who have been found to abuse persons with disabilities, and ensure they are not hired again by different providers. This legislation will protect the safety and dignity of people with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The legislation possesses more than 20 co-sponsors and is currently under review by the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities which is co-chaired by Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan (D-Leominster) and Representative Kay Kahn (D-Newton). To continue tracking the status of the bill, S.64, please visit the Legislature’s website, www.malegislature.gov.