Bill aims to preserve and protect parental rights

HARTFORD — State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, introduced a bill designed to preserve and protect parental rights when minor children receive voluntary mental health or developmental treatment in out-of-home facilities.

H.B. 6297 is intended to protect parental rights in circumstances when a minor child is voluntarily placed in intensive behavioral health services, out-of-home care for mental health treatment or due to a developmental disability, a press release stated. The bill will prohibit the Department of Children and Families from “requesting, recommending or requiring that a child or youth’s parent or guardian terminate his or her parental rights,” including transferring custody to DCF, when placing their child in voluntary care.

“The intent of this legislation is to keep strong, family bonds intact during one of the most difficult times a child and his or her parents can face, while seeking help for mental health issues,” said Rebimbas in the release. “Parents who are seeking professional help on behalf of their children are essentially seeing their families forced apart in order for their children to receive proper care. They should not be forced by a state agency to choose between treatment and parental rights.”

The legislature’s Children’s Committee held a hearing on the bill in February.