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The Adams family (named changed to protect privacy) was surprised when they came home one day to find a letter in their mailbox from New Jersey’s Department of Youth and Family Services. Mrs. Adams immediately called Home School Legal Defense Association.
“I called you before I called my husband,” Mrs. Adams told HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly, who took her emergency call. “I knew that I could turn to HSLDA to help in this crisis. I never thought this would happen to me.”
Attorney Donnelly “helped me to calm down, as I was quite upset at this happening,” Mrs. Adams added. “He explained my rights under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution and helped think through how I should respond, if and when the social worker came back.”
The social worker did return. When that happened, Mrs. Adams firmly refused to allow the official to interview her children, although she did allow the worker to view the children at the door. After the children left, Mrs. Adams spent a few minutes with the social worker discussing the allegations.
“Reading all of the HSLDA e-lerts and articles really prepared me to defend my family under this situation,” Mrs. Adams said. “Even though the allegations were exaggerated, I was able to remain mostly calm and polite with the case worker.”
Mrs. Adams continued, “I had been a private school teacher and had substitute-taught in public schools. I decided to homeschool after my older daughter had some problem in the public schools, and I’m not sure I would have started homeschooling without the confidence and peace of mind I get by being an HSLDA member. I know that some people think that HSLDA’s articles are scare tactics, but I know that I wouldn’t have been as prepared to handle this situation without them. Being able to have an attorney to talk to and help me think through the situation and how to respond was invaluable! Thanks HSLDA!”
As a result of Mrs. Adams handling of the case and Donnelly’s phone calls to the agency, the allegations were deemed unfounded.We hope you never find yourself in a similar situation. But if you are forced to interact with a child protective services agency, we are willing to assist you however we can. For more information about handling interactions with social workers, you can view our members-only document, “The Social Worker at Your Door: 10 Helpful Hints.”
HSLDA Social Services Contact Policy
We desire to advise our members in every contact with a social worker and/or police officer in investigations resulting from allegations of abuse or neglect. If homeschooling is an issue, we will represent our member families until the issue is resolved. On Fourth Amendment unreasonable search and seizure issues, HSLDA will advise our members whenever the privacy of their home is violated by forced or coerced entry for the purpose of an unsubstantiated investigation. HSLDA membership benefits do not extend to court actions resulting from non-homeschooling matters. However, in circumstances where there is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, HSLDA may, as we have done in the past, choose to take the case in an effort to establish legal precedent.