April 21, 2004

Senate Bill 899: An Act Concerning Family Law - Child Abuse and Neglect Investigations - Parental Rights

Senators Mooney and Stone

SB 899 would ensure that during any investigations by Social Services or Child Protection Services, the parents will be advised of the specific allegations. This bill would also mandate that social workers are trained in the Constitutional rights of the family. This is Maryland's federally mandated CAPTA bill (see background information). This bill is the House companion legislation to HB 1085. The Maryland Legislature adjourned before this bill could be considered, thus resulting in the death of the bill. HSLDA will work with our sponsors and Maryland homeschoolers to reintroduce CAPTA legislation in the 2005 Legislative Session.

02/26/2004Introduced, and first reading in Senate Rules Committee.
03/05/2004Re-referred to Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
03/25/2004Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Hearing at 1:00 PM.Location: 2 East Room, Miller Senate Building, Annapolis, MD 21401 (410-841-3623).
04/13/2004Bill was not acted upon before session adjourned.

Action Requested:
No more action is necessary.

HSLDA's Position:

On June 25, 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (S.342). HSLDA was able to attach two amendments that will protect families during the child investigative process. The bill requires child protective services workers to be trained in their duty to protect the statutory and constitutional rights of those they are investigating, and requires child protective services personnel to advise individuals subject to a child abuse and neglect investigation of the complaint or allegation made against them.

This is the most significant reform of social worker investigations in the last decade.

It is important to implement this legislation at the state level for the following reasons:

1. Protection for Homeschool Families. HSLDA deals with cases on a daily basis where a social worker is investigating a homeschool family because of false allegations. These tips, often supplied by those holding a grudge against home education, are often investigated aggressively. Social workers frequently demand to conduct physical inspections of homeschool children or to interview very young children outside the presence of their parents.

Oftentimes social workers refuse to state the allegation they are investigating, and usually conduct the investigation in a manner that violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

If these provisions are enacted into Maryland law, they will provide crucial protection for innocent homeschool families and minimize the trauma of an investigation.

2. Federally Mandated. These reforms were passed at the federal level. The Department of Heath and Human Services has stated that the most efficient and effective implementation is if the provisions are codified at the state level.

3. Congress' Intent. If this bill is enacted into Maryland law, it will guarantee that Congressional intent is implemented properly and completely in order to not jeopardize the state's child welfare funding.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History