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May / June 2005

Nourishing your special needs child

What Does HSLDA consider a special need?

HSLDA cares about special needs families

The Special Needs Fund

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20-year tribute

Homeschool leader comments

Doc’s Digest
From the heart

Opportunities abound

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Across the states
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Patrick Henry College dominates moot courts
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HSLDA social services contact policy/A plethora of forms

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Untrained social workers endanger families

In June 2003, President Bush signed a bill that requires all child protective services (CPS) workers to be trained in the legal rights of parents. The new law also requires CPS workers to tell parents what they have been accused of at the time of initial contact with the family. But even though these new requirements have been on the books for almost two years, New Mexico CPS workers remain untrained and unwilling to tell parents what they have been accused of-posing a danger to family freedoms.

One Home School Legal Defense Association member family learned this the hard way in February 2005. Two CPS workers and a detective contacted the Biltmores* at their home on a New Mexico military base to investigate allegations of abuse. Mr. Biltmore asked what the allegations were, but the CPS officials refused to tell him until after the investigation was complete. They said they must enter the home and talk to each child separately. Mr. Biltmore asked whether they had a warrant. One CPS representative responded that they did not need a warrant because the Biltmores' home was on a military base.

Mr. Biltmore politely refused to allow the officials into his home, and they eventually left.

When HSLDA called the CPS workers to find out what the allegations were, one of them explained that she never told parents the allegations against them before talking to their children. "Normally," she said, "I just go to the public school and interview the child there. Then I tell the parents what is going on." That mistake could cost New Mexico hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal aid.

State Senator Lee Rawson has helped initiate an investigation into this failure to comply with federal law and has proposed amendments to New Mexico Senate Bill 233 that would make sure CPS representatives are trained in parents' rights. Given New Mexico's failure to follow federal law over the last two years, however, we urge all HSLDA members to contact us if a CPS worker appears at their door.

— by Dewitt T. Black

* Name changed to protect family's privacy.

See "HSLDA social services contact policy".