She was 19, a brand-new mother with a developmental disability. Two days after giving birth to her daughter, the state took the infant away and placed her in foster care.
Massachusetts child welfare officials contend that the young woman couldn’t properly care for a newborn and insist they acted in the child’s best interests. But the federal government disagrees: it says the state violated the woman’s civil rights by discriminating against her because of her disability.
In a new report, the Justice Department and the US Department of Health and Human Services say the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) – which has moved to terminate the mother’s parental rights – needs to compensate her and give her a chance to prove she can care for her daughter, or it could face a federal lawsuit.
The National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency advising the White House and Congress, says the case points up a growing problem: states needlessly taking custody of the children of disabled parents.
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