THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

715

THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2019

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to a right to parent for blind persons.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that blind individuals face certain preconceived biases and attitudes in family and dependency law proceedings where custody and visitation are at stake and in public and private adoption, guardianship, and foster care proceedings. As a result, some children of blind parents are unnecessarily being removed from their parents' care or restricted from enjoying meaningful time with their parents.

The purpose of this Act is to protect the best interests of children parented by blind individuals or children who could be parented by blind individuals by establishing procedural safeguards and equal protection rights of blind parents or prospective blind parents in the context of child welfare, foster care, family law, and adoption.

SECTION 2. Chapter 587A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"587A-   Blind parents or prospective parents; parental rights. (a) A parent's blindness shall not serve as a basis for denial or restriction of visitation or custody in family or dependency law cases when the visitation or custody is determined to be in the best interest of the child.

(b) A prospective parent's blindness shall not serve as a basis for the prospective parent's denial of participation in public or private adoption when the adoption is determined to be in the best interest of the child.

(c) An individual's blindness shall not serve as a basis for denial of foster care or guardianship when the appointment is determined to be in the best interest of the child.

(d) Where a parent or prospective parent's blindness is alleged to have a detrimental impact on a child, the party raising the allegation bears the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the behaviors are endangering or will likely endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the child. If this burden is met, the blind parent or prospective parent shall have the opportunity to demonstrate how the implementation of supportive parenting services can alleviate any concerns that have been raised. The court may require that such supportive parenting services be put in place, with an opportunity to review the need for continuation of such services within a reasonable period of time.

(e) Notwithstanding any provision in section 587A-33 to the contrary, if a court determines that a blind parent's right to custody, visitation, foster care, guardianship, or adoption should be denied or limited in any manner, the court shall make specific written findings stating the basis for such a determination and why the provision of supportive parenting services is not a reasonable accommodation that must be made to prevent such denial or limitation.

(f) For the purposes of this section:

"Blindness" means central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens; provided that an eye that has a limitation in the field of vision so that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than twenty degrees shall be considered to have a central vision acuity of 20/200 or less; provided further that an individual shall also be considered blind if that individual has a degenerative condition that reasonably can be expected to result in blindness.

"Supportive parenting services" means services that may assist a blind parent or prospective blind parent in the effective use of non-visual techniques and other alternative methods to enable the parent or prospective parent to discharge parental responsibilities as successfully as a parent who is not blind."

SECTION 3. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.

SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

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Report Title:

Blind Persons; Parental Rights

 

Description:

Establishes parental rights for blind parents or prospective blind parents in the context of child welfare, foster care, family law, and adoption.

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.