NEWS

a division of Home School Legal Defense Association
April 10, 2001

Child & Family Protection Act
(Juvenile Court Dependency Hearings Initiative Statute)

What is the Child & Family Protection Act?

The Child & Family Protection Act is an initiative that is being qualified for the March 5, 2002, primary ballot in California. The initiative will protect the health and well-being of children by reforming the flawed foster care system and making some needed changes in the juvenile dependency courts.

Why do we need the Child & Family Protection Act?

The initiative is necessary to ensure that due process and fairness are restored to legal proceedings involving the most important, fundamental right and obligation of a family---the raising of a child.

What are some of the specific provisions of the initiative?

The Child & Family Protection Act has four components:

  • The right to a jury trial. Fundamental to our system of government, the right to a jury trial is guaranteed by the U.S. and California Constitutions. However, parents and children are not currently granted this right in juvenile dependency cases in California. A child can be removed from the care of his or her parents with no supporting proof tested by a jury. This initiative requires the government to present its claims before a judge and jury, on request of a parent or child, to determine whether or not allegations are true.

  • The right to a public hearing. Abuse of the process is currently hidden behind closed doors because juvenile proceedings are not open to the public. This initiative will open hearings, unless doing so is deemed harmful to children or family.

  • The right to a speedy resolution. In any case where a child has been removed from his or her family due to alleged abuse or neglect, California law requires the case to be heard within 15 days to bring speedy resolution and to minimize trauma to the child. However, thousands of children are kept away from their families for months on end by unnecessary government delays. This initiative puts teeth in the 15-day rule. After 30 days have passed without a hearing, the initiative shuts off the financial incentives for further delays.

  • The preservation of the family. In many cases, other family members are willing and able to care for children who have been removed from their homes. However, current law does not promote preservation of the family. This initiative does!

It sounds as if current law often does more harm than good. What effect does it have on children and their parents?

Many children are being kept away from their families and traumatized for months in government-sponsored care. And to add insult to injury, parents and taxpayers are being burdened with the costs.

Who designed the current system?

Politicians! While their intentions were good, the results have been harmful to children and parents alike. It is important to protect children from abuse and neglect, but it is just as important to make sure that children are not abused by wrongfully removing them from their parents in the first place.

Who is the initiative designed to help, children or parents?

Both! Children will be protected from possible neglect or abuse, but will not needlessly suffer from a prolonged forced separation from their parents or family. Parent's rights will be protected if they are falsely accused of abusing their children.

When will these positive changes go into effect?

March 5, 2002---the day California voters pass the Child and Family Protection Act.

What can the average person do to help this initiative pass?

Circulate petitions for signatures. Everybody's help is needed to get 650,000 signatures by August to qualify the initiative for the March 2002 ballot. Petitions and further information can be obtained by visiting www.CoalitionToPreserveFamilies.org, calling (408) 738-3677, or e-mailing neff@cavalier_assoc.com.

How soon should we get involved?

Now is the time to gather signatures.

"There are a lot of broken families in this state, broken needlessly by a broken system. Now, at last, the people of California can make known their desire to preserve families. Please, help them to be heard!" Kevin W. Thompson, Ph.D., co-chair, Child & Family Protection Committee

[NOTE: HSLDA, Family Protection Ministries and Christian Home Educators Association of California strongly support the Child & Family Protection Act initiative. However, we are not affiliated in any way with the Child & Family Protection Committee, the author of the initiative, or any of its sponsors.]