October 20, 2004

House Bill 5589: Child Welfare Investigation Reform

Representative Fulton Sheen

H.B. 1060 will create crucial due process protections for homeschoolers and other families faced with child welfare investigations.

02/24/2004To House Committee on Family and Children Services
04/22/2004From House Committee on Family and Children Services: Reported with recommendation with substitute.
04/28/2004In House. Read second time and committee substitute adopted. (H-1) To third reading.
04/28/2004In House. Read third time. Passed from House to Senate
04/29/2004To Senate Committee on Judiciary.
05/20/2004From Senate Committee on Judiciary: Recommended as amended.
05/26/2004In Senate. Read third time. Passed Senate to House for concurrence.
06/22/2004House concurred in Senate amendments with additional amendments. To Senate for concurrence.
06/24/2004 Senate concurred in House amendments.
06/24/2004Ordered Enrolled.
06/30/2004Sent to Governor
07/08/2004Signed by Governor

Action Requested:
None at this time.

HSLDA's Position:
HSLDA strongly supported this bill.

House Bill 5589 passed the House and Senate and is now awaiting the Governor's signature.

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 HSLDA provisions are enacted into Colorado 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 Colorado law, it will guarantee that Congressional intent is implemented properly and completely in order to not jeopardize the state's child welfare funding.
  4. Social Worker Liability. If social workers are trained in the Fourth Amendment and parental rights of families, they will be on notice of their duty to follow Fourth Amendment due process, making themselves personally liable should they violate these rights. If this law is passed it will keep social workers properly chained by the Constitution.

 Other Resources

Bill Text   (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Bill History