Parents with disabilities

The House Family, Children, and Human Committee heard SB 259, parents with disabilities, sponsored by Rep. DeVon and Rep. Vermillion. This bill specifies that it is the policy of the State to recognize the importance of family and children, including the parenting rights of a parent, regardless of whether the parent has a disability. It also provides that the right of a person with a disability to parent the person’s child may not be denied or restricted solely because the person has a disability, defines the term “reasonable accommodation”, and establishes procedures to be used in proceedings concerning custody, parenting time, adoption, foster care; and guardianship; when a parent, prospective parent, prospective foster parent, or prospective guardian is a person with a disability.

Significant testimony was heard last week from Department of Child Services, ARC of Indiana, National Federation of the Blind. Indiana Statewide Independent Living Council, Indiana Association of the Deaf, Indiana Association of Resources and Child Advocacy, and Marion County Commission of Youth.

The bill was substantially amended to establish a rebuttable presumption that an individual’s disability does not make the individual unfit to: (1) act as a guardian for a minor or incapacitated person; (2) parent, for purposes of an action to modify custody or an action to determine or modify parenting time; (3) adopt; or (4) hold a license to operate a foster family home. The amendment also provides that a court, in appointing a guardian, hearing an action to modify custody, hearing an action to determine or modify parenting time, or determining whether to grant a petition for adoption, and the Department of Child Services in determining whether to grant a license to operate a foster family home shall not discriminate against, and shall take into consideration the provision of reasonable accommodations to, an individual with a disability. The bill amended passed 11-0.

Read the bill at: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/senate/259