Caregiver abuse registry on track for July launch
Nicky’s Law implementation was delayed by six months
A NEW STATE registry to track caregivers who have abused people with disabilities is on track to launch in July, after a six-month delay.
“There is so much work to be done, and they’re doing it really well and taking it slowly so that they get it right,” said Cheryl Chan, who advocated for the law establishing the registry. The law is named for Chan’s son Nicky, who was beaten by a caregiver at a day program for people with intellectual disabilities.
Nicky’s Law was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in February 2020. The law requires the state’s Disabled Persons Protection Commission to create a registry of caregivers of people with disabilities against whom the commission has substantiated an allegation of abuse. A worker has the right to appeal their inclusion on the registry and can petition to be removed from it after five years.
Employers will be obligated to check the registry and cannot hire someone whose name appears on it. The registry would be confidential, so only employers can check it.
When the law passed, it was supposed to go into effect January 31, 2021. But provision in a budget bill signed in December pushed the deadline back to July 31.
Andrew Levrault, assistant general counsel at the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, said the commission is currently preparing for the registry’s launch. The agency is in the process of finalizing its regulations for the registry, with a public hearing scheduled for next week. Levrault said he anticipates employers will be able to register for access to the registry portal in early July.
Those involved in the creation of the registry say the six-month delay was due to COVID-19 and logistical issues.
Leo Sarkissian, executive director of The ARC of Massachusetts, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said it was known from the beginning that the state would need 14 to 18 months to get the registry up and running. But negotiations over the bill led to delays in its passage, and the effective date never got pushed back.
Chan, who joined a Disabled Persons Protection Commission advisory council, said the commission needed new technology to establish the registry and needed to hire and train staff.
Maura Sullivan, The ARC’s director of government affairs, said COVID-19 led to additional delays. There was also an issue when funding had not been moved from one government agency to another. There are also lingering concerns about language in the commission’s existing statutes that is different from language in Nicky’s Law, so advocates are asking legislators to pass another bill to make the language consistent.
But overall, advocates say they are not worried about the delay.
“We’d like to see that expand to more agencies and more vulnerable populations,” Sullivan said.