Congressional Breakthroughs in CAPTA Reform
- Monday, October 14, 2002
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) receives an average of one call per day from a home-school parent who is facing a social worker at his or her door. Over 90 percent of the "tips" social workers receive are anonymous. Nonetheless, social workers still try to enter the house and interrogate the children privately.
The federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), enacted 20 years ago, has wreaked havoc on the 50 states' child welfare codes. CAPTA forces states that want to receive federal funding for their child welfare programs to report, investigate, and pursue all "suspected" child abuse tips.
States have responded by aggressively pursuing all "anonymous tips"--which also happen to be the main source of tips against innocent home-schooling families.
CAPTA is up for reauthorization in 2001-02. HSLDA has successfully attached three key amendments to the House version, which we also expect to pass in the Senate. These amendments will help to increase protections for any parents facing a child abuse investigation.
House subcommittee hearing
On Oct. 16, 2001, Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel Christopher Klicka had the opportunity to present testimony before the House Education and the Workforce Committee's Subcommittee on Select Education to demonstrate the real abuses by overzealous child welfare workers against home-school families throughout the country.
After describing and documenting many examples of social workers exceeding the Fourth Amendment in harassing innocent home schoolers faced with fabricated allegations, Klicka offered five amendments to CAPTA to help solve the problem. (Read Klicka's testimony at http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/hslda/200110192.asp.)
After many hours of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the following two amendments were included in the bill:
1. Revealing allegations
One of the amendments requires that every state adopt provisions and procedures to require that a representative of the child protective service agency shall, at the initial time of contact with the individual subject of the child abuse and neglect investigation, advise the individual of the complaints or allegations made against the individual.
Unfortunately, social workers throughout the country often refuse to reveal the allegations against the home-schooling family.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce issued "report language" stating Congress's intent: The Committee also heard concerns how most of these families were never informed of the specific allegations made against them in the first place. The Committee firmly believes that individuals being investigated for alleged child maltreatment should be informed of the specific allegations against them.
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