Each year in America, parents of children with severe mental illness feel pressured to relinquish custody to the state so their child can receive residential treatment. Our investigation delves into how this phenomenon is playing out in Connecticut, where a group of parents have been pushing the state to stop the practice. We tell the story of one mom, Stephanie Priestman, whose 14-year-old daughter, Sami, is at the center of a years-long custody battle with the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Parents giving up custody in order to get their kids mental healthcare happens less than it used to. But it still occurs in 44 states, even though 26 of them have statutes and other policies to prevent it.