June 9, 2003

Fourth Amendment Training Becomes Mandatory for Social Workers in Texas

Texas homeschoolers and families will be better protected from Child Protective Services (CPS) workers then ever before.

Home School Legal Defense Association's recommend amendment requiring CPS training in constitutional rights has become law. The language states, "It is the intent of the Legislature that the training curriculum for CPS Caseworkers funded out of Strategy A.1.2, Child and Family Services, include instruction in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and parents' rights."

This means social workers in Texas will have to receive specific training in respecting the constitutional rights of the families they are investigating. Most social workers we deal with who have received an anonymous accusation against a homeschool family routinely ignore the family's parental and due process rights.

Under this new law, CPS workers will be trained in their duty to follow the 4th amendment which requires them to get a warrant from a judge based on credible evidence BEFORE they can enter a home. This training will increase their liability in that they will be without excuse to claim they did not know they were supposed to protect families' rights.

We at HSLDA believe that abuse by the Child Protective Services (CPS) is the single greatest threat to homeschoolers in Texas. We handle member investigations, based on false allegations, by CPS workers on a regular basis.

We have worked on the federal level with Congress to successfully pass two important amendments to the Child Abuse Treatment and Prevention Act that will curtail social worker abuses. One of those federal amendments requires that all states create procedures mandating social workers around the country to be specifically trained in their duty to protect the statutory and constitutional rights of those they are investigating. This requirement is long overdue!

Texas is the first state to implement this new federal mandate by passing this new CPS training law.

HSLDA Legislative Counsel Tom Sanders and Senior Counsel Chris Klicka worked during this year's legislative session to get House Bill 1752, a child welfare reform bill, passed in the Texas legislature. Many of you made calls in support of this bill. Yet the tremendous opposition by the social worker lobby resulted in its defeat.

Tom Sanders worked with Representative Hupp and Budget Committee Chairman Representative Heflin, however, to quietly slip HSLDA's CPS training language into H.B. 1, the General Appropriations bill almost two months ago.

HSLDA was able to shepherd this language through conference committee with the House and Senate appropriations bills as they were reconciled. The CPS training language survived and was passed by both houses on June 2! HSLDA will be working to provide input on the writing of this CPS training curriculum.