November 19, 2001

Illinois Home Schoolers Investigated for “Children Playing in Yard”

An unfortunate characteristic of many anonymous child abuse “tips” is that they fail to get the facts straight, resulting in unnecessary investigations and stress for innocent families. A classic example of this recently occurred in Madison County, Illinois.

Someone saw a Home School Legal Defense Association member family’s children playing in their own yard and anonymously reported it as child neglect! Although the tip was so inaccurate that it even had the number of children wrong, the social worker insisted upon interviewing the children, entering the home, and verifying their immunizations.

When the family informed HSLDA about the incident, we contacted the social worker on their behalf, explaining how the law protects their rights in the investigation. For example, social workers do not have the right to interview children or enter the home without either the parents’ consent or a court order.

We also explained the newly passed provisions of Illinois Senate Bill 1305, which prevents the Department of Children and Family Services from investigating families who choose not to immunize their children. In addition, state law protects the family since they had a religious objection to immunizations.

Finally, the social worker decided to classify the report as unfounded, and the investigation was closed.