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Senate Bill 421: Restrictions on Social Worker Access
Sen. Scott Thomas (D-District 2)
This bill, among other things, sets forth the circumstances under which a social worker may enter a private residence to conduct an investigation:
(1) The reasonable belief that a juvenile is in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury,
(2) The permission of the parent or person responsible for the juvenile's care,
(3) The accompaniment of a law enforcement officer who has legal authority to enter the residence,
(4) An order from a court of competent jurisdiction.
With respect to the first circumstance, we would have preferred that the standard adopted by the General Assembly be "probable cause" instead of "reasonable belief." "Probable cause" is the standard prescribed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution for entering a private residence. However, this new law in North Carolina is an improvement over the practice previously followed by social workers.
Signed into law by the Governor on July 4, 2003.
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