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Susan Oliver: Convicted—even though this mom did everything right

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Patrick Henry College doubles enrollment

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New Jersey
Social worker investigates family

A Home School Legal Defense Association member family in central New Jersey was recently confronted by a social worker from the Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). The family's teenage daughter went to visit a doctor because of weight loss and was checked into the hospital. When the parents went to visit their daughter, they were met by two hospital employees who began questioning the parents regarding their daughter's health. Later, a social worker came to the room and began questioning the family. A nurse told the family that it is hospital policy to refer such cases to DYFS. The family informed the social worker that they didn't want to be interviewed without preparation. Then they asked HSLDA for assistance.

The social worker gave the family her card and told them to call her to set up an appointment so she could complete her investigation, indicating the possibility that she would refer them to counseling. Although there was no medical evidence of abuse or neglect, the social worker wanted to inspect their home and question all the children. HSLDA attorney Scott A. Woodruff counseled the family regarding their rights under the Fourth Amendment. The family refused the overly-broad request to inspect the home and interview the other children. Instead, they made an alternative suggestion—an option that limited the scope of the investigation and protected their rights. The social worker accepted the suggestion and the family was promptly cleared of all wrongdoing. — Scott A. Woodruff

See Social Services Contact Policy