December 19, 2003

Arizona Families Gain Important New Protections

Homeschoolers across the country have been working hard to make some small but important changes to the laws governing child abuse and neglect investigations. On June 25, 2003 Congress enacted the "Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003," which requires social workers to inform parents of the allegations against them at the time of initial contact, and also requires social workers to be trained regarding the legal rights of the parents they investigate. Arizona has now adopted these new federal requirements into state law, and has made other significant changes too.

The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) worked hard to take the federal legislation HSLDA supported and convert it in to specific protections for Arizona families. HSLDA urged CAP to add another provision to the law, which allows families who have been falsely accused to discover the identity of the person who reported them. This law is on the books in Virginia, where homeschool families have been helped by it. The inclusion of the Virginia language in Arizona's new child protective services bill shows how homeschoolers can make a difference by working together at the state and national level.

The new law also makes it a crime to knowingly and intentionally make a false report of child abuse or neglect, and requires family courts to consider whether either parent has ever made a false report in custody cases. Taken together, these provisions may do some good in stopping the flood of false and malicious reports that now overwhelm our child abuse and neglect investigation system.

HSLDA wishes to specifically thank Cathi Herrod and Bethany Lewis of CAP for their tireless work on this huge and complex project. Arizona Families for Home Education also deserves a great deal of thanks for their involvement in this effort. With the governor's signature on this bill December 18, 2003 Arizona is now the second state in the nation to lock these new federal protections into state law. Congratulations to every Arizona homeschool family!