The main objective of CCDD's public policy efforts is to promote public policy that makes sense for the people we serve. We support policies that encourage the integration between people with developmental disabilities, the people who support them, and the community as a whole.
CCDD’s resources, vision, values, goals, and mission create a solid platform that continues to influence the direction of public policy at the state and federal level. It is a platform that fosters change in service provision, reflects the needs of people with developmental disabilities, and promotes public awareness of those needs.
Governor Andy Beshear signing proclamation declaring March 2023 Developmental Disabiliites Awareness Month.
The Council identifies Legislative Priorities every year to direct Council efforts in creating systemic change at the highest level in Kentucky. The main objective of CCDD's public policy efforts is to create system change in Kentucky for persons with DD and their families.
The Council provides training opportunities in advocating with legislators and participates in Legislative awareness days, national public policy seminars, and one on one visits with lawmakers to educate on disability issues.
The Council uses a non-partisan approach in activities to promote change. Our emphasis is to be a source of information and advice in helping legislators and other policymakers to identify and evaluate the available alternatives for meeting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.
If you would like more information on the 2023 Legislative Sesssion visit: Kentucky Legislative Record
The Council's Policy Coordinator, Justin Jeter, tracks and shares current session legislation that is important for people who have a disability and their families. Justin is always happy to answer questions and discuss policy. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Council maintains a presence in systems changes initiatives in Kentucky. We assist advocates and families to submit formal comments and recommendations, both as a stand-alone entity and as a member of coalitions, on waiver proposals and other policy issues and/or regulations that directly affect people with developmental disabilities and their families. For assistance contact Justin Jeter at email@example.com
Call to Action:
The key problem is that many states have laws that allow disability status to be used as grounds for terminating parental rights, or as a determining factor in custody hearings for divorce or adoption.
In Kentucky, courts can intellectual/developmental disabilities and psychiatric/emotional disabilities as grounds for termination. According to a recent study, 20% of social services cases in Kentucky involve someone with a disability. Protection and Advocacy has developed an in-depth report on this issue, available upon request. This link is to a short summary of KY law allowing termination of parental right: https://heller.brandeis.edu/parents-with-disabilities/map-tpr/kentucky.html
Solutions Across the US
23 States have passed laws to protect the custodial rights of parents with disabilities. Most of the bills are either about blindness or are cross-disability and revolve around three main points:
- ensure parents with disabilities have received reasonable accommodations (both in daily parenting and in legal proceedings) before terminating their custodial rights;
- prohibit using disability status as grounds for adoption denial;
- prohibit using disability status as grounds for termination of custody rights in child welfare or divorce hearing.
The Current Approach
We've been working with several legislators, state agencies, and advocacy groups to figure out an approach that would fit Kentucky. The effort has support from Prevent Child Abuse KY, and stakeholders in CHFS and DCBS, to name a few. The current template has been H3538 from South Carolina, passed in 2017.
How Can You Help
We are hoping to have a hearing on this issue later on this year, and need someone who is willing to testify. The biggest barrier so far has been convincing legislators that this is a problem in our state. Please reach out if custody of your children has been threatened because of your disability (in social service cases, divorces, or adoption) and are willing to testify.
Contact: Justin Jeter - 502-782-0696