News - Capital University Law School

Wells Lecture Presents an Innovative Approach to Protecting Parental Rights of the Disabled

2/21/2017  -  On February 8, 2017, Professor Joshua Kay, a clinical assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Veterans Legal Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School delivered the 2017 Wells Lecture entitled, “Applying the Americans with Disabilities Act in Child Protection Proceedings.” Addressing an audience of Capital students, faculty, alumni, and family law practitioners at a two-hour event sponsored by the Capital Family and Youth Law Center, Professor Kay proposed using the Americans with Disabilities Act to improve the protection of the rights of disabled parents.

Professor Kay, who holds an M.A. and a Ph.D in Psychology, as well as a J.D. from the University of Michigan, explained that disabled parents are frequently confronted with attempts by the state to terminate their parental rights, despite the fact that by targeting support services government agencies could often improve the parenting prospects of the disabled. He urged family law practitioners and jurists to use the Americans with Disabilities Act to impel agencies to provide much-needed support to parents whose mental and physical disabilities might otherwise render them unable to care for their children.

Professor Kay’s lecture was followed by an inspiring talk by Adam Helbling, a motivational speaker, life coach, and the author of the autobiography, "Well... I Guess I'm Not Jesus." Mr. Helbling shared his story, which demonstrated that those who encounter serious disabilities are capable of living rich lives, including caring for and bonding with children.

Professor Kay’s remarks will form the basis for an article that will be published in 2017-2018 by the Capital University Law Review, which helped The Family and Youth Law Center to organize this event. The Wells Lecture was established in honor of N. Douglas Wells, a dedicated teacher and cherished faculty member of the Capital University Law School from 1989 through 2004. Professor Wells, whose research and teaching focused on family law, helped to establish the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy, which preceded the Family and Youth Law Center.