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4/25/2005 2:33:41 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Texas--Your Calls Worked - the Child Welfare Bill was Amended

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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April 25, 2005


Texas--Your Calls Worked - the Child Welfare Bill was Amended


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Senate Bill 6 is a huge child welfare reform bill that makes some
improvements to the social worker system in Texas. But it included a
number of dangerous provisions, which we summarized in our e-lerts to
you. Thank you for answering the call and contacting your state
representative. As a result, last week dozens of amendments were added
to S.B. 6.

The most significant amendment reduces the danger of the provision
that would make it a criminal offense for someone to withhold their
child from a social worker. If this provision had stood it could have
been used against HSLDA Attorneys and parents who desire to keep their
children from being interviewed alone by social workers during an
investigation motivated by an anonymous tip. We have always believed
that these types of interviews unnecessarily traumatize the child and
open up the possibility of the social worker twisting information that
he receives from the child. As a result, we advise our members to have
a third party interview the child, such as a pastor or doctor, if
necessary.

The amendment added to S.B. 6 solves this problem and protects parents
from overzealous social workers. The amendment states, "A parent or
other person who, in response to the department's investigation, seeks
an evaluation of the child by a credible third party professional,
including a licensed physician or a licensed counselor is considered
to be cooperating with the investigation."

It is helpful to have the right to go to a third-party, specifically
articulated in the law. This provision enables parents to be in the
driver seat and helps HSLDA defend parents.

In addition, language was added, which we helped include in the
omnibus budget bill two years ago, which requires that child welfare
workers have to receive, "Instruction on rights provided by the Fourth
Amendment to the United States Constitution." This is a positive
addition to the child welfare code, since social workers routinely
ignore the Fourth Amendment rights of families. Although the law has
existed for two years, instruction on the Fourth Amendment has not
been applied during this time. We welcome this additional provision to
the child welfare code.

Lastly, another important victory included the removal of language
which would have given social workers the right to make unannounced
visits to homes where a family has an adopted child. We explained to
the legislators that an adopted child should be treated under the law
in the same way as a biological child. If a biological child is with
the family in the home, the Fourth Amendment protects that child. The
adopted child deserves no less protection. The legislature heard our
arguments and removed this onerous requirement.

Although the bill still expands the reach of government through the
child welfare system, which we do not prefer, we are very thankful
that the above provisions were added to protect the freedoms of all
families, including all homeschoolers in Texas.

Child welfare agencies have been the most difficult situations to deal
with for HSLDA. Many homeschool families are reported to a child
welfare agency by an anonymous tipster who fabricates allegations
against the family, causing them to be pressured and harassed by
social workers. The provisions listed above will help HSLDA continue
to protect the rights of families. At this point, therefore, we do not
see the need for any further calls.

Thank you once again for your diligence and willingness to sacrifice
the time and effort to contact your state representative. Your calls
made the difference.

Sincerely,


Christopher J. Klicka, Esq.
HSLDA Senior Counsel



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