Rep. Dean Campbell Applauds Passage of ‘Nicky’s Bill;’ Sent to Gov. Baker for Enactment

Rep. Linda Dean Campbell with Nicky’s Law advocates. (Courtesy photograph.)

Legislation to protect individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities from abuse at the hands of care providers passed the state House of Representatives last week with a unanimous vote of 154-0.

The bill, first submitted three years ago, was filed by Rep. Linda Dean Campbell and Sen. Michael Moore It passed the Senate unanimously last October and awaits Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature. The legislation addresses a shortcoming in the powers of the state’s Disabled Persons Protection Commission in that when an investigation finds that a care provider has committed serious abuse against an individual with a disability, the Commission can only communicate the investigation results to the care provider’s current employer. According to Campbell’s office, “Unless the care provider is convicted in a criminal court, and very few are, there is no way for other employers to know that the care provider previously committed abuse. This means abusive care providers can easily seek new employment in the same line of work, where they are able to abuse again.”

Campbell said, “The stories of these families are gut-wrenching and too numerous. As a society and a government, we should be judged in part by how well we protect our most vulnerable citizens, and this bill is important to fulfill that responsibility.”

This was the case, she said, for Nicky Chan, for whom the bill is named. Nicky has an intellectual disability and was tragically restrained and beaten by a care provider at his day program. The care provider was fired following a Commission investigation but was not convicted in court, in part because Nicky is nonverbal and could not testify.

Nicky’s Law addresses this need by directing the Commission to establish a registry of care providers who are found to have committed serious abuse after a fair and thorough investigative process. Employers that serve individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities will be required to check the registry before making new hires and will not be allowed to hire anyone listed on the registry. The process includes numerous protections to ensure due process, including multiple chances for an accused care provider to appeal, and the information in the registry will be strictly confidential.

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