HCN News & Notes

Nicky’s Law Enacted to Protect Individuals with Disabilities from Abuse

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, and Department of Developmental Services (DDS) Commissioner Jane Ryder joined advocates, legislators, and family members of individuals with developmental disabilities yesterday for a ceremonial signing of An Act to Protect Persons with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities from Abuse, also known as Nicky’s Law.

Administration officials were joined by Nancy Alterio, director of the Disabled Persons Protection Commission; Leo Sarkissian, executive director of the Arc of Massachusett; family members of the law’s namesake, Nicky Chan; and other advocates and legislators to celebrate the enactment of the law, which establishes a new abuse registry of caregivers in Massachusetts.

The registry will be administered by the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC), the agency tasked with protecting adults with disabilities from the abusive acts or omissions of their caregivers, which will maintain the registry’s list of any providers or caregivers with histories of substantiated abuse. Effective Jan. 31, 2021, any individual listed on the registry cannot be hired or work for DDS or any of its licensed or funded providers throughout the state.

“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.”

Currently, candidates who apply to DDS or one of its licensed providers must undergo a criminal offender record information (CORI) and national background check screening before they can be hired. The creation of this registry will provide an additional resource against which DDS and its providers must conduct comprehensive background checks on candidates interested in working with those served by the department.

“The safety and well-being of those we serve is paramount across health and human services,” Sudders said. “We will continue to work with DPPC and the many advocates like the Arc of Massachusetts, who were instrumental in passing this bill, to keep identifying ways we can protect and safeguard individuals from harm or neglect.”

DPPC will maintain the registry and oversee all functions, including notification, decision appeals, and requests to remove a name from the registry. The law takes effect on Jan. 31, 2021, and will include only the names of individuals with substantiated cases of abuse after that date.