The Home School Court Report
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Summer 1990
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Cover Stories

Crime Bill Likely to Pass With Dangerous Child Abuse Provisions

HSLDA Announces Free Achievement Tests For Members

Major Courtroom Victory In Rhode Island Testing Case

National Home Education Research Institute Founded

Suspicious Caller

1990 Home School Leadership Conference


President's Corner

Across the States

National Center Reports

National Center Reports

Early Intervention Programs Threaten the Life of the Traditional Family

Programs designed to identify children who are “at risk” for child abuse are cropping up in various states. A recent Associated Press article reports that “Hawaii is trying to fight child abuse with an ambitious program designed to screen every new parent for the potential to commit domestic violence and offer counseling to those at risk.”

“The Healthy Start program presently reaches 60 percent of Hawaii’s new parents, and the state hopes to be screening nearly every new parent by 1992. Those judged at risk are offered five years of home visits and counseling on economic and emotional problems that can lead to child abuse.” The article goes on to describe that seven agencies of government are cooperating to supervise this venture which deals with the family “in all aspects of family life.”

The Ohio Legislature proposed an extensive “early intervention” program this summer in its H.B.746, a particularly dangerous piece of legislation because it calls for cooperation between several agencies of government whenever a family is reported for possible abuse or negligence. Even anonymous phone calls questioning a family’s values could begin the referral process.

The stated goal of Bill 746 is a “continuum of care and services for children and their families from birth.” This would be accomplished through the lead of the Department of Health in conjunction with the Department of Human Services, the Department of Education (including 89 Ohio school superintendents), and a host of other major state agencies operating at county and local levels.

Substitute House Bill 746 is riddled with the notion that various public and private groups and government agencies can best determine what health and education services are best for children. This bill calls for a statewide assessment of the needs of children and their families and includes a mechanism for tracking the movement of a child and family from one source of intervention to another.

Webster defines intervention as “interference, usually by force: to become a third party to a legal proceeding for the protection of an alleged interest.” In H.B.746, intervention is defined as the identification, evaluation, assessment, and development of a family service plan which includes agency goals for the child and family. Other services include, but are not limited to, special education, social work, nutrition, therapy, psychological services, medical diagnosis and evaluation, health services necessary to enable the child to benefit from other intervention, family training, counseling, home visits, and much more. Accordingly, when a child is referred to an agency for intervention, an evaluation (which may include one or more home visits) shall be done to determine if the child fits into one of these categories:

  • Developmental Delay is the failure of a child to reach developmental milestones for his age in the areas of self-help skills, physical, cognitive, language, speech, sensory, or psychosocial development.

  • Children at Established Risk are those with a developmental delay, medical disorder or condition that has a high probability of developmental delay.

  • Children at Biological Risk are those with a history of events that may have affected the development of the nervous system. This encompasses the time between 28 weeks gestation through 28 days after birth.

  • Children at Environmental Risk are those whose environmental experiences have limited their development.
When a child is evaluated and it is determined that no further assessment is needed but, nonetheless, the child may “benefit” from other services, the child will be referred to another provider for another evaluation. Moreover, when a child is evaluated and it is determined that the child does not need further assessment but, nonetheless, it is believed that the child should be monitored, the child will be referred for periodic evaluation. The ultimate result is an endless merry-go-round of evaluations and assessments.

The definition of parent in H.B.746 is “either a parent, guardian, individual with legal custody, parent surrogate, or guardian ad litem of a child acting as the parent surrogate.” Although consent for intervention must be given by a “parent” there are “parents” or agents whose decisions override the decisions of the real parents. This bill defines a family as a child and at least one other individual who assumes obligations as primary care giver (editor’s note: the Department of Health).

“If applicable,” the parent (depending on the definition of parent) will be given notice of the right to refuse intervention and the consequence of refusing. The original bill spelled out the consequence as neglect or child endangerment charges. In addition, the “parent” will be given notice of his/her right to an attorney at all stages of the program.

Ohio is presently spending over $200 million for intervention in Medicaid appropriations. In addition, the Department of Health is receiving $3 million in federal funding for planning and implementation of intervention. Ohio must pass legislation mandating intervention in order to continue receiving federal support. Unless the General Assembly passes legislation this year, the $3 million in federal funding could be lost or saved, depending on financial perspective. This type of financial motivation from the federal coffers will cause other states to follow suit with similar laws.

People are being told that this bill proposes a completely voluntary program—but until the language is corrected, it is not! Nor does it state that parents may remove their children from the program once they have begun. What happens when a parent decides that a child no longer needs the “care and services” of the “experts” but the experts disagree? The bill states that intervention shall continue during resolution of disputes, unless the state, other agencies and the parents all agree to discontinue.

Parents in Missouri have been charged with neglect for failing to follow the advice of the “experts” in their “voluntary” program. People are also being told that this bill applies only to handicapped children—but until the language is corrected, it does not! Even so, why should those families be stripped of the parental rights to determine health and education plans for their children?

HSLDA attorney, Michael Farris, says, “The language in this bill will lead to the virtual eradication of the traditional family in Ohio. This current version is seriously out of balance and will lead to serious infringement upon the rights of parents.”

Nationally, there is a definite intent to lower the compulsory school age to three. Passage of this bill would be another step in that process. Once a bill such as Substitute House Bill 746 has gained widespread support, it can then be made mandatory. The bill calls for “improvement and expansion” of intervention with the goal of all services being available on a twelve month basis. Of all the state agencies involved, only public schools do not already operate on a twelve month basis.

Passage of Substitute House Bill 746 would empower the state to intervene into the rearing of children from the moment of birth. It also would advance the idea that the state is the ultimate guardian of our children.

H.B.746 passed the Ohio House of Representatives on April 5, 1990 and has now been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. We are prayerful that the Committee will run out of time to hear the bill in time for a floor vote prior to November of this year.

We share this detailed information about the bill with you so that you might be alert to similar goals and language as they are expressed by legislators and lobbyists in your own state. Early intervention bills do not allow for home school exemptions in the language; thus, it is important to make consistent appeals that such child abuse systems can be seriously misused by persons with unrelated or unjustified complaints. Laws need to be written in such a way that government intervention will be limited to those cases which are true instances of child abuse. Legislation which is out of balance will lead to serious infringements upon the rights of parents who are raising their children properly but who may be perceived by others as different from themselves. Families should not have to undergo the trauma and expense of investigations simply because they are different.

Public Schools Not Liable for Sexual Assault By Teachers

Kindergarten is supposed to be a happy and carefree time in the public schools where rosy-cheeked youngsters receive milk and cookies from their teachers. That image is far different from reality.

A November 1989 decision by the California Court of Appeals brings the harshest edge of reality into clear focus. In the case of Kimberly M. v. Los Angeles Unified School District, the court ruled that the school district was not liable for the act of a kindergarten teacher who had sexually assaulted a five-year old girl. The attacker was a female teacher who performed lesbian acts on the girl.

The Court of Appeals clearly indicated that it wished to reach a different ruling but felt its hands were tied by a recent decision of the California Supreme Court. One judge wrote:

In John R. [the prior case], the Supreme Court announced an extraordinarily broad rule—essentially that for policy reasons school districts are not liable under respondeat superior for acts of sexual abuse their teachers may commit against students. Under the rule as formulated it makes no difference how much authority the teacher wields over the student, how vulnerable the student is, or where the abuse occurs.

Those who argue that home schooling should be banned or regulated because of the potential for child abuse ought to read this case. In the public schools “open season” has been declared upon children—at least in terms of whether the school district bears any responsibility.

Beware of the Anonymous Letter Writer

He (or she) is the truant officer of your local school district. One morning the mail includes a special letter in it about you! If you could read it, you would notice immediately that it was sent anonymously by one of your neighbors and that the situation it describes is grossly exaggerated with several of the details being entirely fabricated. A sample appears below.

February 30, 1990
Truancy Officer
ABC Public School District
12345 Sesame Street
Anywhere, State 67890

Dear Sir:
I am a concerned citizen who values education for myself and for others. This letter is written with the best of intentions.

Living in the home of Steven Zealot and his wife, Anna, at 777 Homeschool Blvd., Anywhere, State, 67890, are three children who do not attend school. There are two boys, whose approximate ages are 12–13 and 10–11, and a girl, about 8 years.

These children are allowed outside their home until 8:00 a.m.; at that time, they are required to go into the house until about 3:00 p.m. Some people believe that this practice is intentional to outwit the school authorities.

The children's mother reportedly claims to be a licensed teacher with permission to teach her children at home. However, she apparently spends little time at home. If she does have the legal right to educate her children, it appears that not much teaching is being done.

I believe the above is all truthful.

To indulge in speculation: Someone has suggested that the children, since they are being virtually “hidden,” could be kidnapped, the object of custody battles, etc…. Many possibilities exist.

However, I (and other interested persons) request that the “educational situation” of the three young children be investigated by the SBISD so that the children's future be protected as much as possible.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


cc. Superintendent of Schools

The text of this letter (with a few adjustments to protect the identity of the people involved) was actually sent to a truant officer to "turn in" an HSLDA member family. It is important to be aware of the possibility of such letters and to pray consistently for the Lord’s protection in this area. Be alert to appropriate ministry opportunities with neighbors so that the “hidden” and “secret intrigue” of your actions do not tempt people to suspect you. Ask the Lord for wisdom in conducting your home education program so that your “good be not evil spoken of.” Finally, do not allow yourself to be “frozen” with fear, but commit yourself to peace, knowing that God has promised His blessings to those who walk in His ways—that includes home schooling!

National PTA Opposes Corporal Punishment In Schools

The following information appeared in the October 18, 1989 issue of Education Week's “Across the Nation” column.

“The National PTA has called for federal legislation to outlaw corporal punishment in schools nationwide.”

“‘Parents would be charged with child abuse if they injured their children in the same way educators are legally allowed to do in most states,’” Arlene Zielke, National PTA vice president for legislative activity, said in a statement.

“Corporal punishment is illegal in only 19 states, eight of which banned the practice within the past year,” Ms. Zielke said.

“While physical punishment has been outlawed in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and other institutions, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that such punishment in public schools is not cruel or unusual and that children who are physically punished are not protected under the Constitution.”

“The National PTA argues that corporal punishment is ineffective in the long run; that it is most likely to be applied to minorities, handicapped youngsters, and younger children; and that it is often used as a first-resort punishment for minor offenses.”

“Arnold Fege, director of government affairs for the PTA, said the group would continue to try to influence state legislation and to introduce changes in, among other federal education statutes, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, now up for reauthorization.”

Workaholism Traced to School Days

“Taking his work home with him” started in his youth. Time at school was not used well. It was necessarily spent on crowd control, repeating directions, lining up, calling roll, collecting papers, passing out grades, organizing teams, and covering the same ground three times to spare the inattentive from reaping the consequences. The class observed earth day with a tree-planting trip on Monday, a guest speaker on Tuesday, a socially-conscious music band on Wednesday, a roadside litter project on Thursday, and a trip to a landfill and sewage treatment plant on Friday.

Time was mis-spent watching Nickolodeon and propaganda films. Time was frittered away with playmates as games of hang-man or battleship were passed from desk to desk, triangular paper footballs were flicked across tables, and variations on the old standbys developed.

But for all these enrichment activities, academics were not slighted. Not at all! Johnny was still assigned long division, complete sentences to diagram, and the 50 state capitals. Johnny still was given word lists to learn for the state-wide standardized testing program. These basic skills were not neglected. This was homework. It was piled high. Time was not left for this work at school. That time was lost. This work must be done after school.

The two tragedies were that, if Johnny did his homework, the teacher was not there to answer his questions. Time with the teacher as teacher was lost, and time with his parents was spent doing school work. Thus, time with the parent as parent was lost. School expanded to displace the family, and occupied all Johnny's life. His waking hours were spent at school or doing schoolwork at home.

Is it any wonder, then, that John finds it difficult to concentrate at the office, taking home the over-stuffed briefcase to fulfill the deadlines at home? And what of his family and the other priorities his life should honor? Alas, the fruit of habit controls him now, and his boss continually commends his dedication. “We should have more employees like him!”

Religious Americans Denied Equality

By Cal Thomas
Reprinted with Permission
Los Angeles Times Syndicate

When Congress passed the Equal Access Act in 1984, it intended to alleviate discrimination experienced by religious people, most often Christians, who were repeatedly denied opportunities to express their view in public schools. The act permitted religious students to hold after-school Bible studies on school property if the schools also allowed such groups as chess clubs and Future Farmers of America to meet.

But the secularists among us, who argue so forcefully for pluralism in everything else, apparently want God kept completely off public property, even though religious parents pay taxes for school just like everyone else. The after-school-club issue was argued two weeks ago before the Supreme Court, and it will decide later this year the constitutionality of a club formed by a Christian Bible club at Omaha's Westside High School.

It is becoming increasingly clear that there exists in this country a system of religious apartheid that denies religious people full participation in their public institutions as effectively as racial apartheid has denied South African blacks full participation in their country. The difference is that while South Africa has taken the first steps toward racial pluralism, secularists in America are continuing their assault on the public schools.

Religious apartheid began in the early 1960s when prayer and Bible reading in public schools were banned. It has been strengthened through more recent cases that outlawed prayers at public school football games and the use of Christ’s name in a valedictorian speech in Louisiana (this case is now being appealed). Also, a Rhode Island judge forbade a rabbi from praying at graduation ceremonies, saying the rabbi’s invocation was a prayer because he addressed a deity in the first line and concluded with “Amen.” These cases clearly show that the courts repeatedly come down against religious citizens, preferring the secular over the sacred.

If religious citizens want to have an impact on their country, and offer their children more than the limited world view of the secularists, they need to respond to this religious apartheid or risk losing even more freedoms. One strong protest message would be for religious citizens to immediately withdraw their children from public schools and place them in private schools where high moral values can be reinforced, or educate them at home, a practice that is becoming more popular.

We don’t send American soldiers to train in the camps of our enemies and expect them to defend our nation and its beliefs and values. Why should religious parents educate their children in a school system that, for example, ignores creation theory in favor of evolution and teaches that sex is an option they can exercise before marriage with no concerns other than preventing venereal disease and pregnancy?

If religious parents want to help their children, they must stop allowing government and public schools to set the standards and think in terms of offering their standards for others to follow.

If religious people are looking to the Supreme Court to end religious apartheid, they will be disappointed. Regardless of how the Court rules on after-school clubs, the textbooks have already been purged of the historical values that once were as much a part of America as the religious philosophy that is now banned.

Only a withdrawal from the schools will produce the kinds of “soldiers” who can function in and then return this nation to moral stability.

Notes of Appreciation

Dear Michael Farris,

We are so glad we could participate, and we are more than happy to help in any way.

We are so happy your organization exists—we thank you and God that so many good people are there to help us do what we feel is best for your children and to take responsibility for all aspects of our children’s growth and education. We are committed to homeschooling, and though we spend far more than private schooling, we could never have found the joy we've experienced—except through this decision to homeschool. It’s so worthwhile—well worth the cost in time and money. We love parenting. We love rearing our children and are grateful they can share so much of our lives—we are so grateful we don’t have to send them away for 8 hours each day!

Thanks again for all you“ve done to make this option available to us. God bless you all.

Gary, Kim, Bonnie, Christopher, Kathryn, Colleen and Carrie Ann Hildebrandt,
Ann Arbor, MI

Dear Michael [Smith],

Thank you for all the work you did helping New Hampshire home schoolers to get H.B.373 passed. Thank you for coming to New Hampshire to testify for home schoolers. I appreciate all that you did to help us.

A Northfield, NH Member Family

Dear Michael Farris and Staff,

We just wanted to say “thank you” for all of your faithful work that you’re doing on behalf of homeschoolers. This is our first year of home education, and we know that things wouldn’t have gone so smoothly if HSLDA and other people hadn’t worked so diligently for fair regulations.

May the Lord bless you richly.

A Canton, OH Member Family

We also think that your Washington, D.C. lobbying group is a great idea!

Dear Mr. Smith,

…Were it not for your advice and steadfast legal interdiction, the district would still be persecuting us needlessly.

…We praise God for the unconditional victory over this intrusion in our lives—and we thank you and all the people at HSLDA for your ongoing personal encouragement and legal protection.

…A great many friends and relatives of friends have followed our “case” with interest [and] the sobering nature of this type of single-minded attack has provoked more than a few of them to consider starting (or in some cases renewing) membership in your organization.

God bless each of you for your commitment to the cause of educational accountability and excellence. We deeply appreciate all you've done for us—and we pray that God richly rewards you for all your good work.

A Pasadena, CA Member Family

Dear Mr. Klicka,

Thank you for your helpful and faithful support throughout the school year.

HSLDA and the employees are in our prayers. Praise the Lord for His blessings and the strength and courage He imparts to us through the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes I literally get tired reading the Court Report—your efforts sound so relentless and persistent. We are fortunate that you and the other dedicated lawyers represent us. Thank you again.

A Ruckersville, VA Member Family


Just a quick note to thank you very much for all you do for home schooling families across this country.

I encourage you in your efforts.

May God richly bless you in all that you do for all that you have done. It is so comforting to know that if we ever need you, you will be there for us as you have been for others.

One hundred dollars seems like such a pittance. If I could afford more, you would have it all.

Again, thank you.

An El Paso, TX Member Family

Meet Pat Ramirez

Pat Ramirez is HSLDA's featured employee for this summer issue of The Home School Court Report. Having joined the staff of HSLDA in May of 1989, Pat ranks as HSLDA's senior, full-time, female employee.

Born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Pat spent her childhood and teen years in various locations along the mid-Atlantic coast. She finished high school in Brooklyn, New York and then attended Nyack Bible College. Pat’s career includes experiences in several firms as a legal assistant and service with the Department of Defense in Germany for three years.

On the recommendation of friends, Michael Farris contacted Pat with a job offer in 1989. She accepted the position with great alacrity and anticipation. At first, Pat worked with both Michael Smith and Chris Klicka, but as workloads have increased and other staff have been added, her primary responsibility is focused now on working with Mr. Smith.

HSLDA staff, asked to describe Pat, mention first her quick sense of humor and cite her ability to “tell good jokes” and her infectious laughter. Susan Dawson aptly described Pat as the “den mother” of the organization. She is an expert on the office equipment and is a knowledgeable and patient teacher, always ready to offer help and direction to those in need. New-comers and old-timers alike announce “ask Pat!” when unsolvable office riddles come their way.

Pat enjoys spending her free time in a variety of ways. She has been overheard mentioning that she likes to go kiting on the week-ends, and she has been known to frequent craft fairs and local fetes. Lunch hour in the office often finds Pat cross-stitching. It is the unanimous opinion of those present that Pat is one of the fastest cross-stitchers on the Eastern Seaboard.

Above all of these endearing traits we are most grateful for Pat’s example of concern for the families with whom she works. Serving as Michael Smith’s assistant, Pat is very familiar with state laws and is able to guide parents accurately and compassionately in complying with them. George Whitten adds, “the fruits of the spirit are evidenced in all that Pat does.”

Staff Changes

We are pleased to welcome Darby Waters to our HSLDA staff. Before coming to HSLDA, Darby taught art to elementary students at a private school in the Washington, D.C. area. Presently working in Membership Services, Darby is also able to work in her field of expertise by doing special projects related to printing and graphic designs for HSLDA publications.

Home School Student Lobbies With Her Life

Seventeen-year-old Ashley Fitch has served as a legislative intern for the past two sessions of the Tennessee general assembly. In doing so, she has had far greater impact on the senators and legislators than any home school lobbying effort ever could.

During Ashley's college application process, Senators Person, Owen, Kyle, and Haynes, along with Thomas Milam, Program Administrator for the Tennessee Legislative Internship Program, wrote glowing recommendation letters for Ashley. Areas of her life that impressed them were her integrity and good character, her scholarship and commitment to excellence, her highly developed communications skills, leadership ability and execution of duties with fidelity and dispatch.

Repeatedly those writing letters of recommendation remarked on how well Ashley worked with people of all ages. Martha Hannah, Acting Coach of the Backstage Theatre, stated “Ashley is supportive and encouraging to her peers and works easily with adults.” The qualities evidenced in Ashley’s life repudiate the typical concerns expressed by opponents to home education, namely an inferior quality of education and lack of socialization.

In addition to their letters of recommendation, the Senators proposed a resolution to the senate of the ninety-sixth general assembly of the state of Tennessee to honor Ashley Fitch for her outstanding work as an intern.

Senator Curtis Person's letter stated: “As a homeschooler, Miss Fitch is a fine example of a well-rounded student that the system can point to with pride.” The impact that our children make is our most powerful witness to the validity and, yes, even necessity of home schooling. Raising godly children who are able to make a positive impact on the society they serve is our goal and our reward. Thank you, Ashley, for the testimony of your life. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Fitch, for a job well done!

Occupational Tax For Home Schoolers?

To increase revenue for the public schools, the State of Pennsylvania allows counties to institute a tax on occupations. Tioga County, Pennsylvania has levied such a tax. It is collected twice a year.

John and Linda Horton teach their own children, and Linda works full-time at the tasks of teaching and homemaking. On July 1, Tioga County billed Linda Horton for an occupational tax of $97.50. The tax was calculated by giving her occupation an assessed valuation of 75 and multiplying it by the rate of 1300 mills. Mrs. Horton called the tax office to straighten out the mistake. The assessment clerk said she was listed as a part-time employee. After inquiring three times, Linda finally found out that she was listed as having an occupation of home school teacher. The county assessment clerk said that her township tax assessor (one of the Horton's neighbors) had written a memo suggesting that Linda Horton owed an occupational tax. Linda explained what home schooling is and that she does not engage in any income-producing enterprise or employment. The tax office said they would call her after the weekend with an answer.

The same clerk called on July 9th and announced that home schoolers would be taxed as part-time employees. Linda received another call later that morning from the county tax assessor (the person in charge of real and personal property taxes, occupational and per capita taxes, and the 1% county tax on gross income) who claimed that the school district had asked that Linda be taxed as a teacher. Linda then called the school district. The official there said they had not requested a change in her listing on the tax rolls, but mentioned that the tax assessor had told them Linda would send the assessor a listing of other home schoolers whom Linda knew. Linda had already told the assessment clerk that she would not reveal names of home schoolers.

The next day the school district called Linda to notify her she would be listed as a homemaker. Hard on the heels of that call came a call from the general tax assessor saying that Linda would not be charged an occupational tax.

Sure enough, Linda received a corrected tax bill indicating “occupation” with assessed valuation of zero. However, a little understanding is in order, for the woman in charge of receiving payment of occupational taxes in her township apparently has had little experience in the value of Linda's occupation. When we tried to reach this official to inquire about the history of the occupational tax, her child said she would be difficult to catch because she worked during the day and attended classes in the evening. The county's occupational valuation scale does not go as high as the value Linda’s function has for her family and the rest of society.

Should Mom Get a Job?

When finances get tight and ends just don’t meet, the obvious solution for a family is for Mom to go to work—right? Well, maybe not, says a recent study released by the House Democratic Study Group in Washington, D.C.

The study revealed that the added income of a working mother was offset by increased work expenses, so that the family’s usable income was only marginally increased. Although the average additional income a working mother brings home is approximately $10,000, the actual usable income of a working mother averaged only $1,000 to $1,500 per year after the expenses of transportation, child care, clothes and meals were deducted. According to a story in the Washington Post (July 2, 1990), “the study estimated that one third to one half of the apparent increase in women’s earnings was eaten up by work expenses and taxes.”

The study attempted to see how much better off families were because the mother was working. It compared two-parent families, factoring in mothers who worked full time and part time with the 6–7 million mothers who were not employed outside the home.

The financial plight of the American family was confirmed by the study as the average earning level of the approximately 25 million fathers in two-parent families fell from $31,973 in 1978 to $30,766 in 1988 (measured in constant 1990 dollars). This information makes it all the more important for President Bush to keep his promises and not raise taxes.

The average earnings of the working mothers increased because more of them were working and they were working more hours. Combined family income increased from $38,439 to $40,711, a modest gain given sacrifices families must make to allow a mother to work outside the home.

Perhaps if the 18.1 million working mothers knew the marginal increase in usable income their jobs outside the home actually generate, they would reassess their decisions. They would then realize that the strain and fatigue of an outside job coupled with the small financial gain are not worth the cost to their family life and well-being. Certainly home-schooling moms realize that their time and talents are better spent in teaching and disciplining their children.

At HSLDA, we believe that the response to financial pressure in the family should be to try to find ways to economize or earn extra money through a family enterprise. Above all, we need to commit ourselves to prayer that God would provide for each family so that the mother can remain in the home.