Rep. Freeman’s bill will help parents with disabilities keep their children

Rep. Roger Freeman, D-Federal Way.  - Contributed
Rep. Roger Freeman, D-Federal Way.
— image credit: Contributed

Public testimony at the hearing for House Bill 2616 was moving. Sarah, a parent with intellectual disabilities, talked of a son she had taken away from her 25 years ago.

If Sarah had had a support plan in place, she feels she would have been able to care for her son.

“Even though we need help,“ she said, “People like me have the right to raise their children.”

In a 97-0 vote, the House passed Rep. Roger Freeman’s bill on Thursday that will give parents with disabilities the tools they need to keep their family together.

“Parenting is hard,” said Freeman, D-Federal Way. “As a father of two, I understand the difficulty of sleepless nights, putting food on the table and never-ending homework. For a parent with disabilities, the challenges are even greater. Currently, parents with disabilities aren’t given the extra support they need. This bill will give them the help they and their children deserve.”

If a parent with a disability is at risk of losing his or her child, this bill would require the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to give the case an extra look and see if reasonable accommodation can be made to help parents keep their children. And then for DSHS to follow through and help parents come up with a plan to make sure they can access these support services.

“We know the best place for children is with their parents,” Freeman said. “Foster care is only a good option for a child if his or her parents or family can really not care for them. This bill will keep more children out of foster care and back with their families.”

HB 2616 now heads to the Senate for consideration.


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