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Maryland

March 22, 2005

Senate Bill 27: An Act to Protect Parents' Rights in Child Abuse and Neglect Investigations

Sponsors:
Senators Alexander Mooney and Norman R. Stone, Jr.

Summary:
Senate Bill 27 was the Maryland Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act legislation. It would have protected a family's Constitutional rights by requiring social workers to inform the family of the specific allegations against them at the time of initial contact. Unfortunately, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee failed to approve this bill. We will continue to work to pass legislation that will protect families during social service investigations.

Status:

11/04/2004(Senate): Pre-Filed
01/12/2005(Senate): First Reading Judicial Proceedings.
02/22/2005(Senate): Committee Hearing at 1:00 PM, in the 2 East Room, Miller Senate Building, Annapolis, MD 21401-1991
03/07/2005(Senate): Unfavorable report by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

HSLDA's Position:
Support.

Action Requested:
No more action is requested.

Background:
On June 25, 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (S.342). HSLDA was able to attach two amendments that will protect families during the child investigative process. The bill requires child protective services workers to be trained in their duty to protect the statutory and constitutional rights of those they are investigating, and requires child protective services personnel to advise individuals subject to a child abuse and neglect investigation of the complaint or allegation made against them.

This is the most significant reform on social worker investigations in the last decade.

It is important to implement this legislation at the state level for the following reasons:

  1. Protection for Homeschool Families: HSLDA deals with cases on a daily basis where a social worker is investigating a homeschool family because of false allegations. These tips, often supplied by those holding a grudge against home education, are often investigated aggressively. Social workers frequently demand to conduct physical inspections of homeschool children or to interview very young children outside the presence of their parents.

  2. Oftentimes social workers refuse to state the allegation they are investigating, and usually conduct the investigation in a manner that violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

    If these HSLDA provisions are enacted into Maryland law, they will provide crucial protection for innocent homeschool families and minimize the trauma of an investigation.

  3. Federally Mandated: These reforms were passed at the federal level. The Department of Heath and Human Services has stated that the most efficient and effective implementation is if the provisions are codified at the state level.

  4. The Intent of Congress: If this bill is enacted into Maryland law, it will guarantee that congressional intent is implemented properly and completely in order to not jeopardize the state's child welfare funding.

 Other Resources

HSLDA's legislative toolbox

Feb-21-2005 — Maryland--Calls Needed--Bill to Protect Parent's Rights During Investigation set for Hearing Tuesday

Bill Text

Bill History