On Monday, the Senate Family and Children Services Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill (SB) 312, authored by State Senator David Niezgodski (D-South Bend). SB 312 would guarantee the parenting rights of a person with a disability and would prohibit this right from being denied or restricted solely on the basis that the person has a disability.

“Hoosiers with disabilities should not be judged merely on their disabilities when determining their capacity to parent a child,” Sen. Niezgodski said. “I want Hoosier children to be able to have loving parents to care for them, and there is no reason why a Hoosier should lose their right to parent just because they have a disability.”

SB 312 would make certain that the Department of Child Services (DCS) could not deny a foster family application if an applicant with a disability is otherwise qualified to be a foster parent. DCS would also be required to implement training programs designed to educate employees in the rights and capabilities of those with disabilities.

“Indiana has thousands of children who need to be cared for in foster homes,” Sen. Niezgodski said. “By acknowledging the ability of disabled Hoosiers to be good parents, SB 312 could increase the number of licensed foster households and provide more loving homes for our state’s most vulnerable kids. In his State of the State address, Governor Holcomb announced his priority to help our Hoosier children find permanent homes faster. I think my bill will help find that permanency for many kids.”

SB 312 now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.