Officials gathered on Tuesday to bring “Nicky’s Law” to fruition with a ceremonial signing after a long journey toward landing it on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.
So many folks to thank for this day coming to fruition. It’s an honor to work with families who don’t give up and legislators who truly care!! #NickysLawisLaw #MaPoli
The law, Baker said in a press release, aims to protect people with intellectual or developmental disabilities from abuse by creating a registry listing the names of any providers or caregivers who have histories of substantiated abuse.
Baker joined advocates, legislators, and family members of people with disabilities, including the family members of Nicky Chan, whom the law is named after, to establish the bill in Massachusetts.
Honored to attend bill signing of Nicky’s Law by Governor Charlie Baker. Powerful remarks were delivered by family members and advocates who have dedicated their lives to protecting those with developmental and intellectual disabilities from harm. #MApoli pic.twitter.com/PEl0EBCWHV
— Sen. Joan B. Lovely (@SenJoanLovely) March 4, 2020
“Protecting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is vitally important, and I want to thank the family members, advocates and our legislative colleagues for their work to pass this bill,” Baker said. “The new registry established in Nicky’s Law will provide an additional safeguard against abuse and further improve the safety and quality of services provided to some of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents.”
The registry will be maintained and overseen by the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, and anyone listed will not be able to be hired by or work for any state-licensed or state-funded providers.
As of now, people applying to work with the Department of Developmental Services undergo a Criminal Offender Record Information and a National Background Check before they’re hired. Initiating this law offers an additional resource for DDS to cross-check their hires before employing them.
DDS Commissioner Jane Ryder said this new tool will allow them to keep better track and put a stop to repeated abuse.
“By expanding our ability to thoroughly vet candidates – and tracking trends and instances of abusive behaviors – this additional tool helps us better protect the individuals we serve and helps end repeated cases of abuse by caregivers,” Ryder said.
By enacting Nicky’s Law, the Commonwealth is making clear that we continue to view the safety of those with developmental disabilities as a top priority.
We are pleased to support the creation of the registry outlined in this important law to protect vulnerable residents. https://t.co/L98nHyytDX
— Karyn Polito (@MassLtGov) March 3, 2020
The law will become effective on Jan. 31, 2021.
Senator Patrick O’Connor, a leading sponsor of the bill, said it took persistence, advocacy, and the voices of those impacted by abuse to put this law into action.
“The love that these families have for their children is so strong and unrelenting that they managed to manifest real change, so that no one would have to endure what their children did,” O’Connor said. “Today is a great day in our fight to protect the most vulnerable among us, and it is all thanks to the families that had the courage to tell their story.”