BOSTON – Last week State Senator Nick Collins and the Massachusetts State Senate passed two pieces of legislation intended to increase protections for children and persons with disabilities, including An Act to protect persons with intellectual or developmental disability from abuse, also known as “Nicky’s Law,” and An Act Relative to Children’s Health and Wellness.

Under Nicky’s Law, the Disabled Persons Protections Commission (DPPC) would establish a registry that identifies individuals who have abused people with disabilities. The registry, which mirrors an existing registry for childcare employees, would include former employees who have been terminated or separated from employment as a result of abuse. The legislation requires care providers to review the registry and prohibits the hiring of anyone who is on the registry.  More than 20 states have enacted and established similar registries.

“Every day I go to work to stand up for the most vulnerable in our communities, and these bills reflect those priorities,” said State Senator Nick Collins. “These reforms will prevent abuse, protect individuals with disabilities, and proactively promote the wellbeing of children who most need our help. I was proud to vote for these bills and look forward to them being signed into law.”

The Senate also unanimously passed An Act Relative to Children’s Health and Wellness. This comprehensive bill addresses issues related to health care access for children who have aged out of the foster care system by automatically enrolling them in MassHealth. The bill also address issues affecting the Department of Children and Families (DCF) by establishing a new data working group to help streamline the agency’s reporting process. The bill calls for an examination of the barriers to mental and behavioral health supports for children; establishes a commission to study mandated reporting laws and calls for increased education around child sex abuse and exploitation.

Both pieces of legislation now move to the House for further consideration.