SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, is working to protect the parental rights of individuals who are blind, by passing legislation addressing the high rates of parental custody challenges involving sight-impaired individuals.

“The best place for a child to grow up is in a home filled with love and compassion, and there is no difference between sighted parents and parents with visual disabilities that prevents them from providing that nurturing environment for their children,” Kifowit said. “Instances in which parents and their children are separated because of a parent’s blindness are far too common. No parent should have their children taken away simply because they are blind.”

A 2012 study from the National Council on Disability found that parents who are deaf or blind reported very high rates of child removal or loss of parenting rights. Kifowit’s House Bill 2626 addresses this problem by ensuring that parental responsibilities, adoption and guardianship cannot be denied to an individual simply because they are blind. Additionally, the burden of proof to show that person is unable to care for the children involved would be placed on the individuals seeking to remove the children.

Kifowit’s measure would also allow parents to use supportive services to help them care for their children. Supportive parenting services are services that assist blind parents in the use of non-visual parenting techniques and other methods, helping them care for their child in a similar fashion as a non-blind parent.

Kifowit’s legislation is supported by the National Federation for the Blind who are advocating for passage of similar proposals across the country. The legislation received bipartisan support in the House.

“Countless studies show that the best place for a child to be raised is with their parents, and manageable impairments like blindness should not be reason to separate a family,” Kifowit said. “This measure will help many families in our community stay together.”

Rep Stephanie KifowitRep Stephanie Kifowit

84th District

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Springfield, IL   62706
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Aurora, IL  60504
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