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1/27/2006 4:23:04 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Washington--Calls Needed on CPS Investigations

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 27, 2006

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

We need your calls to the House Committee on Children and Family
Services to stop reports of abuse or neglect from remaining on your
record for 20 years.

Any time the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) decided
an investigation of abuse or neglect was "inconclusive" or there was
not "sufficient evidence to make a determination" it would remain on
your record for 20 years. Whether the report was true or not does not
make any difference.

HSLDA has defended hundreds of families who were falsely accused of
child neglect. In virtually every situation we protected the family's
privacy by keeping the social worker out of the house and preventing
interviews of the children.

If this bill passes, a social worker who is upset that we have not let
him in the house or allowed him to talk with the children separately
could classify the allegation as inconclusive and blacklist a family
for 20 years. We must keep this from happening.

The Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on House Bill 3153 on
February 1 at 8 p.m. in Hearing Room D, so we need your calls now.
Feel free to forward this email to friends and family.

Action Requested:

Please call and/or email the House Committee on Children and Family
Services members listed below and give them this message:

"Please oppose House Bill 3153. This bill presumes that any person
named in a child abuse or neglect allegation is guilty. No person
should have their name blacklisted where the evidence is inconclusive
or insufficient.

I believe that anyone who abuses or neglects a child should be
prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I also believe that DSHS
has a vital part to play in helping abused children. However, everyone
should be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

Please ensure that House Bill 3153 is defeated."

Do not identify yourself as a homeschooler; instead you can identify
yourself as a concerned parent and taxpayer. Representatives Haler,
Pettigrew, Roberts, Kagi are also sponsors of the bill.

Committee on Children and Family Services Members

Representative Ruth Kagi, Chairman (D)
Olympia Office Phone: (360) 786-7910
District Office Phone: (206) 368-4691
E-mail: kagi.ruth@leg.wa.gov

Representative Mary Helen Roberts, Vice Chair (D)
Olympia Office Phone: (360) 786-7950
E-mail: roberts.maryhelen@leg.wa.gov

Representative Maureen Walsh, Ranking Minority Member (R)
Olympia Office Phone: (360) 786-7836
District Office Phone: (509) 527-4111
E-mail: walsh.maureen@leg.wa.gov

Representative Bill Hinkle, Asst Ranking Minority Member (R)
Olympia Office Phone: (360) 786-7808
E-mail: hinkle.bill@leg.wa.gov

Representative Jeannie Darneille (D)
Olympia Office Phone: (360) 786-7974
District Office Phone: (253) 593-2343
E-mail: darneille.j@leg.wa.gov

Representative Mary Lou Dickerson (D)
Olympia Office Phone: (360) 786-7860
District Office Phone: (206) 545-6513
E-mail: dickerson.marylou@leg.wa.gov

Representative Jim Dunn (R)
Olympia Office Phone: (360) 786-7994
E-mail: dunn.jim@leg.wa.gov

Representative Larry Haler (R)
Olympia Office Phone: (360) 786-7986
E-mail: haler.larry@leg.wa.gov

Representative Eric Pettigrew (D)
Olympia Office Phone: (360) 786-7838
District Office Phone: (206) 587-5543
E-mail: pettigrew.eric@leg.wa.gov

Background:

Under Washington law there are generally three categories under which
DSHS may classify each investigation for abuse or neglect.

Founded: "[t]he determination following an investigation by CPS that
based on available information it is more likely than not that child
abuse or neglect did occur." WAC 388-15-005

Unfounded: "Means available information indicates that, more likely
than not, child abuse or neglect did not occur. No unfounded
allegation of child abuse or neglect may be disclosed to a
child-placing agency, private adoption agency, or any other provider
licensed under chapter 74.15 RCW." Wash. Rev. Code sec.
26.44.020(19).

Inconclusive: "[T]he determination following an investigation by CPS
that based on available information a decision cannot be made that
more likely than not, child abuse or neglect did or did not occur."
WAC 388-15-005

Currently, if an investigation is found to be "inconclusive" the
report is not maintained by DSHS. Reports that are determined to be
"unfounded" are maintained by DSHS for no more than 6 years and then
they are expunged. An unfounded or inconclusive report cannot be
disclosed in a background check for child care license applications,
adoptions, and out-of-home placements.

If House Bill 3153 passes, any report determined to be inconclusive or
where there is "not sufficient evidence to make a determination" will
be held for 20 years. Any reports that are determined to be "founded"
will be held indefinitely.

Another concerning aspect of this proposed law is that any allegation
that is determined to be inconclusive or insufficient can be used as
evidence in deciding child care license applications, adoptions, and
out-of-home placements.

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the state of
Washington received 69,047 allegations of child abuse or neglect in
2003. Over 56% of those allegations were screened out and the
remaining 30,222 reports were investigated.

Once these allegations where investigated only a little more that 13%
were substantiated (4,037) and nearly 40% were unsubstantiated
(12,028). Of the allegations received in 2003, 4,022 did not involve a
minor and 806 were closed with no finding. The remaining allegations,
a total of 9,329 or 31%, were classified as "other." The allegations
reported to the federal DHHS as "other" would likely be classified as
"inconclusive" or "insufficient evidence to make a determination"
under Washington law. Under House Bill 3153 these reports would be
held for 20 years and could prevent thousands of families from
adopting, working in a child care facility or taking an out-of-home
placement.

For more information on social worker investigation and legislative
reform, please go to http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=2804 .

If you are not yet a member of HSLDA and would like to help us fight
for greater homeschool freedom in Washington please visit
http://www.hslda.org/join/apply.asp . From now until March 18 you can
save an additional $15 to $30 if you join or renew online.

If you would like to be put on our free e-mail list to receive vital
elerts you may sign up at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=2803 .

Thank you for your part in fighting for freedom in Washington.

Sincerely,


Thomas Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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