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SC Legislation to Protect the Rights of Parents with Disabilities – PASSED! Page Image

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SC Legislation to Protect the Rights of Parents with Disabilities – PASSED!

We are very excited to share the news that South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has signed House Bill 3538 – the “Persons with Disabilities Right to Parent Act”.

Our sister CIL, Able SC shared the following:

“On May 11, 2017, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed House Bill 3538 which amended South Carolina Code to add a new chapter to the South Carolina Code, the “Persons with Disabilities Right to Parent Act”. Able SC worked with partners including Department of Social Services (DSS) and Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. to draft a bill which codified best practices for ensuring the protection of the rights of individuals with disabilities.

The law requires the Department of Social Services, law enforcement, and the family and probate courts, among others, to protect the parenting rights of people with disabilities by establishing requirements and safeguards applicable in child custody, child protection and probate guardianship proceedings to ensure that persons with disabilities are not denied the right to parent or to have custody of or visitation with a child because of a disability; and to prohibit child placing agencies and adoption service providers from denying persons with a disability the right to access services because of the person’s disability. Additionally, the law prohibits termination of parental rights solely on the basis of a disability. Prior to this law passing, South Carolina had legislation allowing disability as the sole grounds for removing and terminating parent rights, even without evidence of abuse or neglect.

Able South Carolina is so appreciative of all the supporters, especially the bill sponsors, Representative James Smith and Senator Katrina Shealy, the General Assembly, The Department of Social Services, Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc., The SC Developmental Disabilities Council, American Bar Association, Disabled Parenting Project, National Council on Disability, Through the Looking Glass, and the many parents with disabilities who shared their stories and provided testimony.

Kimberly Tissot, Executive Director of Able SC said, “Able SC looks forward to working with the SC Department of Social Services to ensure that the rights of parents with disabilities are protected. People with disabilities, including physical, visual, intellectual, developmental, hearing, psychiatric and other disabilities have the same right to bear and raise children, become foster parents, and adopt a child as any other citizen. The new law also helps with removing the negative perception of what people with disabilities can do. As an organization run and operated by the majority of people with disabilities, we are so thankful for the General Assembly for their leadership in supporting this important disability rights legislation.”

“It was an honor to work with Able SC and partners to enact this important piece of legislation. It’s exciting for South Carolina to be at the forefront around this issue and to advance disability rights in our great state.” said SC Representative James Smith.

More Information about the Persons with Disabilities Right to Parent Act can be found here.”

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