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3/11/2005 10:50:26 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Wyoming Improves Child Protection Law

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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March 11, 2005


Wyoming Improves Child Protection Law


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Governor Freudenthal has just signed Senate File 39, the "Child
Protection Amendments" bill, which makes a number of significant
changes to Wyoming law. Thanks to the hard work of many homeschoolers
and courageous action by family-friendly legislators, this bill
dramatically improves the law for Wyoming families. SF 39 comes on
top of House Bill 76, which the Governor signed on February 17.

Here are the favorable changes from these two bills that all go into
effect on July 15, 2005:

* Child protective services (CPS) workers must inform parents of the
allegations against them at the earliest opportunity during their
initial contact with them.

* CPS workers must be trained about the constitutional and statutory
rights of families. (Many CPS workers currently have no training
about parents' rights.)

* CPS workers must learn the legal definitions of abuse and neglect.
(Many CPS workers ignore the laws defining abuse and substitute their
own opinion.)

* CPS workers will be able to "assess" lower-risk cases instead of
completing a full-blown "investigation." This means better protection
for the children who are really at risk and less harassment of
homeschool families who are reported for trivial or frivolous causes.

* Doctors and other authorized persons are no longer immune from suit
for taking temporary protective custody of a child. Doctors who take
a child into custody on their own initiative now may be liable for
making a bad medical judgment.

* The standard for substantiating child abuse or neglect has been
raised from merely "credible evidence" to a "preponderance of the
evidence."

* People who "knowingly and intentionally" make a false report of
child abuse are guilty of a crime.

This is a long list of positive developments. Two of them (training
in parents' rights, and notification of the allegations against
parents) implement changes that HSLDA and homeschoolers across the
country worked hard to establish in federal law. This is good, but
several key members of the Wyoming House of Representatives want to do
better. Our friends in the House would like to do even more to reform
this system. We are committed to working with them to accomplish this
goal.

HSLDA wants to protect the innocent, punish the guilty, and uphold the
Constitution. We want a justice system that routinely puts abusers in
jail, not a system that routinely puts children into foster care.
That's why HSLDA worked so hard for these amendments.

For more information on HSLDA's efforts to reform child protective
services, see http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=2180 . With your
help, Wyoming could lead the country in reforming the child protective
services system. Thank you for all you have done this year-we look
forward to 2006.

Sincerely,


Scott Somerville
HSLDA Staff Attorney



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