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2/14/2011 1:52:14 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Washington: Urgent--We Need Your Calls to Oppose Social Worker Immunity Bill

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Washington: Urgent--We Need Your Calls
to Oppose Social Worker Immunity Bill

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

We need you to contact the all of the member of the House Judiciary
Committee before February 17 to try and stop House Bill 1680. If
passed, this bill would allow social workers and other government
agents immunity from liability during their investigation of reports
of child abuse or neglect.

There have been a series of cases over 10 years in Washington that
would allow a social worker or other government agent to be held
liable to a parent or caretaker who has been reported for abuse or
neglect. The main case, Tyner v. DSHS, held that there was an implied
right of action for the negligent investigation of a parent or
caretaker who has been accused of abuse or neglect.

If House Bill 1680 passes then caseworkers in Washington will not be
as concerned about their actions towards parents who have been
reported for allegedly abusing or neglecting their children. They will
be confident that they will not be liable for any act or omissions in
their investigation, as it relates to parents who are the subject of a
report. It will make no difference if you were falsely reported; the
caseworker will have no duty to act reasonably toward the parents they
are investigating.

Please call and email the House Judiciary Committee members listed
below now and urge them to oppose this bill! The Committee has
scheduled an executive session on House Bill 1680 for February 17.

ACTION REQUESTED:

1) Please call and/or email the House Judiciary Committee members
listed below and give them this message in your own words:

"Please oppose House Bill 1680. This bill will allow caseworkers to
act in a negligent manner towards parents they are investigating,
knowing that they will not be held liable for their act or omissions.
Washington courts have for the last 10 years worked to limit the duty
that caseworkers have, while protecting parents from the unreasonable
behavior of caseworkers. Parents who have been falsely accused of
abuse or neglect will suffer if House Bill 1680 passes. Please vote
against House Bill 1680, and keep caseworkers liable for acts or
omissions in their investigations."

Do not identify yourself as a homeschooler; instead you can identify
yourself as a concerned parent and citizen.

House Judiciary Committee Members

Rep. Jamie Pedersen- Chair (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7826
Email: jamie.pedersen@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Roger Goodman - Vice Chair (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7878
Email: roger.goodman@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Jay Rodne (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7852
Email: jay.rodne@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Matt Shea (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7984
Email: matt.shea@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Bruce Chandler (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7960
Email: bruce.chandler@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Deb Eddy (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7848
Email: deborah.eddy@leg.wa.gov

Rep. David Frockt (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7886
Email: david.frockt@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Steve Kirby (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7996
Email: steve.kirby@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Brad Klippert (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7882
Email: brad.klippert@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Terry Nealey (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7828
Email: terry.nealey@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Tina Orwall (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7834
Email: tina.orwall@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Ann Rivers (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7850
Email: ann.rivers@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Helen Mary Roberts (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7950
Email: maryhelen.roberts@leg.wa.gov

2) Please call or email your state representative and give him or her
this message in your own words:

"Please oppose House Bill 1680. This bill will allow caseworkers to
act in a negligent manner towards parents they are investigating,
knowing that they will not be held liable for their act or omissions.
Washington courts have for the last 10 years worked to limit the duty
that caseworkers have, while protecting parents from the unreasonable
behavior of caseworkers. Parents who have been falsely accused of
abuse or neglect will suffer if House Bill 1680 passes. Please vote
against House Bill 1680 and keep caseworkers liable for acts or
omissions in their investigations."

Do not identify yourself as a homeschooler; instead you can identify
yourself as a concerned parent and constituent.

To find contact information for your state representative please go to
HSLDA's Legislative Toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=10303
and enter your ZIP code.

BACKGROUND:

In 2009 Washington state has 70,193 reports to the Department of
Social and Health Services (DSHS). Of those reports 39,788 (56.7%)
were screened out because they did not meet the definition of abuse or
neglect. Of the 30,405 reports that were investigated 17,748 were
found to be "unsubstantiated" and another 69 were found to be
intentionally false. Only 4,521 of these report were actually
"substantiated" while 8,067 (26.5%) were referred for an alternative
response, but no child was determined to be a victim of maltreatment.
This means that in less than 15% of all investigated reports a child
was abused or neglected. If you look at all of the reports made the
DSHS, less than 6.5% were actually found to involve child abuse or
neglect.

In Tyner v. DSHS a father was reported to have abused his children.
During the investigation, the caseworker failed to notify the parents,
and the court, that he had concluded his investigation and found that
the allegations were unsubstantiated. Because of this failure, Mr.
Tyner was denied access to his children for 4 1/2 months.

Since then, there have been several cases in Washington that have
limited the effect of the Tyner case or declined to extend the duty
farther. However, the cases have continued to hold that caseworkers do
have a duty to act reasonably in their investigations, even to those
individuals that have been accused of abusing or neglecting their
children.

This bill was introduced last year but failed to pass. Please call now
to help make sure that it is defeated again.

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/elink.asp?id=10304 .

If you would like to be put on our free email list to receive vital
e-lerts you may sign up at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=10305 .

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

Sincerely,

Thomas J. (Tj) Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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