• Calling for change: Parents push for bill to protect children with disabilities

    By: Blair Miller

    Updated:

    BOSTON - A group of people want change in how we protect against abuse, pushing for a state registry to track individuals accused of abusing the disabled.

    At the Mass. State House, parents made a plea for help. A plea for Nicky's Law that stems from four years ago when Cheryl and Alex's son Nicky had been abused while at a day program. He has autism and is non-verbal. 

    "One of the questions that I asked at that time was... what mechanism is in place to keep these abusers from going and getting a job somewhere else and the response was nothing," said Nicky's mother Cheryl Ryan-Chan.

    They've been working toward a bill that would create a registry where health care employers could check for past problems before hiring them.

    >> 'Nicky's Law' would list those accused of abusing people with disabilities

    Nicky's parents aren't alone.

    Paul and Ann Joyce's son, also non-verbal, was abused two years ago. They believe the impact of Nicky's Law would be similar to how the sex offender registry is now used. 

    "It's really creating a voice for these individuals with disabilities that don't have a voice themselves. We're their voice," said Paul Joyce.

    The bill has passed in the Senate and is waiting on the House.

    These parents want to get the bill to the floor for a vote before the end of December when the legislative session ends. So, now until then, these parents plan to be here fighting for the law and fighting for their children. 

    "It's four years. And that's been too long. It's one day too long. We need to get this in. Otherwise, serial offenders will just.... it could happen to anyone," said Alex. 

    If passed by the House and signed by Governor Charlie Baker, the registry would cost the state roughly $1.7 million and could be up and running by 2020. 

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