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March 16, 2004

House Bill 1135: A Bill to Impose Fourth Amendment Limitations on Social Worker Investigations

Author:
Del. Robert F. McDonnell

Summary:
Requires Child Protective Services to include standards of training regarding the legal duties of child protective services workers in order to protect the legal rights and safety of children and families from the initial time of contact during investigation through treatment.

Status:

01/14/04House: Presented & ordered printed
01/29/04House: Committee substitute printed 043466404-H1
01/30/04House: Read first time
02/02/04House: Read second time
02/02/04House: Engrossed by House - committee substitute HB1135H1
02/03/04House: Read third time and passed House VOTE (100-Y 0-N)
02/03/04House: Communicated to Senate
02/20/04Senate: Reported from R. & S. S. (15-Y 0-N)
02/23/04Senate: Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N)
02/23/04Senate: VOTE: CONST. RDG. DISPENSED R (40-Y 0-N)
02/24/04Senate: Read third time
02/24/04Senate: Passed Senate (38-Y 0-N)
02/24/04Senate: VOTE: PASSAGE R (38-Y 0-N)
03/15/04House: Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB1135ER)

Action Requested:
None at this time.

HSLDA's Position:
HSLDA supports this bill.

Background:
HSLDA drafted H.B. 1135 which will create crucial due process protections for homeschoolers and other families faced with child welfare investigations. Delegate McDonnell is the sponsor.

Incredibly the bill passed the full committee and entire House of Delegates unanimously on February 3. We are trying to pass this bill without any fanfare or barrage of calls—and it is working.

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.

HSLDA deals with cases on a daily basis where a social worker is investigating an innocent 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.

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.

The language from this bill originates from the provisions we were able to pass into federal law.

On June 25, 2003, President George W. Bush signed the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (S.342). HSLDA was able to attach these same two amendments that will protect families during the child investigative process.

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

It is important to pass this legislation at the state level to guarantee that Congressional intent is implemented properly and completely. The Department of Heath and Human Services has stated to us that the most efficient and effective implementation is if the provisions are codified at the state level.

If this law is passed it will keep social workers properly chained by the Constitution and they will be liable for making certain they respect the parental and Fourth amendment rights of families.

 Other Resources

Feb-02-2004 - Two Victories for Home Schoolers in Virginia Assembly!

Bill Text