An injustice in Missouri’s mental health system has been ended by a new law that has gone into effect. Here’s the scenario: you are the parents of a mentally-retarded child. But after years of caring for this child, your financial and emotional resources are gone. Your only hope is to have the state provide that child’s care. But the only way to get that care is to give up your parental rights to the child. So you do. And when you do, you suddenly find yourself on the state child abuse and neglect registry. Not any more. Under a new law that went into effect this weekend, parents can obtain state help for their mentally-retarded children without giving up parental custody and without being put on that list. Senate Sponsor Michael Gibbons of Kirkwood says the law is a landmark. Gibbons says the idea came to him from a constituent who managed to hang on long enough to avoid relinquishing custody of their child. He says the situation was destructive to the family and hard on the child. He says it’s hard to know how many people were affected by the old law, but 600 children were in State Social Services Department custody under the old law. Since the new law passed in May, the Department of Mental Health has been working to restore parental custody for as many of those children as it can while developing plans to continue services.
You are here: / / Mental Health Injustice to End