Navigation Links
Collaborative Launches Initiative to Protect Rights of Parents with Mental Illnesses

WASHINGTON, July 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mikayla Bailey Null ran up against her state's discriminatory child custody law when her daughter was wrested from her custody and she had to battle to get her back. To help parents who, like Null, have mental illnesses and who desperately hope, and deserve, to keep or regain custody of their children, the national UPenn Collaborative on Community Integration has launched an initiative to educate legislators around the country in order to challenge state laws and policies that discriminate against such parents. The Collaborative, a national rehabilitation research and training center devoted to promoting community integration for individuals with psychiatric disabilities, is especially targeting state laws that list a mental illness as one of the grounds for not providing "reasonable efforts" to reunify a family: in Alaska, Arizona, California, and Kentucky, as well as in Puerto Rico.

Mikayla Bailey Null's story is a case in point. While on vacation, Null, an Arizonan, had a bad reaction to a medication she had taken. In an ensuing argument with her then-14-year-old daughter, she slapped the girl, who ran out of the cabin. Police arrived, put Null's daughter in foster care and arrested Null. "I was charged with felony child abuse and felony assault because of a slap on the face," she said. "I'm sorry I slapped my daughter but I'm certain that, if I had not had a diagnosis of mental illness, I would not have been charged so severely."

After the girl was released to the custody of Null and her husband, Arizona Child Protective Services made the unfounded assumption that Null posed a chronic threat to her daughter and initiated home visits, despite no evidence of past abuse. After Null asked to discontinue the visits because they so distressed her daughter, child welfare authorities showed up at the girl's school and took her back into foster care. "They put a note on my door," Null recalled. "I can't even describe the trauma of having to have supervised visitation with my daughter, whom I had adopted from another country because I wanted this child so badly." The girl, taken from a loving family and thrust into a group home, was also traumatized. "She didn't smile for over a year," Null recalled.

Null discovered that Arizona is among the states that list a parent's mental illness as grounds for not providing reasonable efforts to reunify a family. The relevant portion of Arizona state law (8-846) notes that "reunification services are not required" if the parent or guardian has "a mental illness or mental deficiency of such magnitude that . . . . the parent or guardian is unlikely to be capable of adequately caring for the child within twelve months after the date of the child's removal from the home."

The UPenn Collaborative is publicizing Null's story to educate legislators and the public about the impact of the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illnesses. The Collaborative's goals include changing or deleting language that discriminates against parents with mental illnesses in legislation and policies that determine when reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family are not required. "Such policies and legislation should use language that does not single out parents with mental illnesses," said UPenn Collaborative director Dr. Mark Salzer. "We also seek relief for these parents under the Americans with Disabilities Act." Dr. Salzer made it clear that under no circumstances is the Collaborative advocating that children be reunified with parents, with or without mental illnesses, who may pose a danger to them.

The Collaborative notes that there has been progress. For example, the Kansas statute, which previously included discriminatory language, was recently rewritten to include language stating that "[n]othing in this code shall be construed to permit discrimination on the basis of disability. . . ."

The Collaborative is seeking stories from parents besides Null who have faced similar discrimination. Parents are encouraged to share their stories with the Collaborative's Pam Cousounis (, 215-746-1950). "This information will be useful in developing training, policy and research initiatives to increase opportunities for parents with mental illnesses to have strong, loving relationships with their children," said Dr. Salzer.

The UPenn Collaborative on Community Integration is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. For more information, please contact the UPenn Collaborative (

Contact: Katy Kaplan, M.S. Ed., Coordinator, UPenn Collaborative on Community Integration, 888-320-4580,

SOURCE UPenn Collaborative on Community Integration
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Health care incentive model offers collaborative approach
2. Sanofi-aventis US Chairman Tim Rothwell Addresses CMSAs Collaborative Practice Summit
3. Collaborative Drug Discovery, Inc. and St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital Make Malaria Research Data Available to Speed Drug Development
4. Free Access to Literature Data on Chagas Disease Offered Online: Collaborative Drug Discovery, Inc. provides Neglected Disease researchers with archive mine and collaborate access to small molecule bioactivity SAR data on parasitic disease
5. First-Ever Collaborative Summit on Breast Cancer Research Targets New Partnerships and Collaborative Solutions
6. AIDS Healthcare Foundation and NCHADS to Open the 7th collaborative ART Center in Pea Reang
7. Digital Lightbox(C) Unlocks New Possibilities in Collaborative Patient Treatment
8. HIV Collaborative Fund Receives Gates Foundation Grant for AIDS Treatment and Prevention Advocacy
9. Cancer Vaccine Consortium and Cancer Vaccine Collaborative unite under the Cancer Research Institute
10. Pennsylvania Attorney General Approves Vincentian Collaborative System-Marian Manor Integration
11. Keystone Programs for Collaborative Discovery Launch at Fox Chase
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... Indianapolis, IN (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 ... ... clean water accessible for all, Water For Empowerment ™ attracts volunteers together ... on clean water by empowering women as key stakeholders in the process. The ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Cokato, MN (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve on several models of traditional and far-infrared saunas. ... . Nordic Spruce is the most traditional Finnish sauna wood, and Finnleo uses only ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... direct sauna parts and accessories. , Sauna accessories help improve the bather experience ... and personality. From basic styles for the purist looking for simplicity in design ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... ... (AUC), European Union (EU), ANDI Pan African Centres of Excellence, and public R&D ... Nairobi (UNON) for the opening of the 5th African Network for Drugs and ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... , ... For the first time, Vitalalert is donating half of its earnings ... partnership between the two groups began in 2014 with Vitalalert pledging a portion of ... was founded in 1954 and is an international Christian-based health organization whose mission is ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... NEW YORK , November 27, 2015 ... health system is set to go online. The potential ... and processes is vast and far from fully exploited ... access to patient health records, either via mobile tablet ... ) --> ) ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... --> Medical ... response system (PERS) market is ... 5 years with APAC being ... to see a high CAGR ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... --> --> Juntendo University Hospital ... weighting of MRI for patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) ... with SyntheticMR in order to use SyMRI in clinical research ... generate multiple contrast images from a single scan and adjust ... it possible to both fine tune images and recreate additional ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: