Federal Relations

October 19, 2001

HSLDA Suggests Guidelines to Prevent Social Services Abuse

Home School Legal Defense Association has had the unique opportunity of offering Congress several alternatives that would eliminate a significant number of the Child Protective Service investigations of innocent families.

On October 17, 2001, HSLDA's Senior Counsel Christopher J. Klicka testified before the Subcommittee on Select Education of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce regarding the "Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect: Policy Directions for the Future." This subcommittee is conducting hearings on the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).

Klicka suggested to Congress several guidelines that would ensure parents' rights when confronted with a child abuse investigation. He noted that HSLDA has worked with hundreds of families who have been traumatized by hostile social service workers investigating false claims.

Specifically addressing the abuses of the child welfare system that result from anonymous tipsters, Klicka noted that current child welfare laws allow people to anonymously phone in allegations of abuse and neglect and that many states have no guidelines in place for the prevention of false reports. Once an investigation begins, parents are considered guilty until proven innocent. Even beyond wasting taxpayers' money, anonymous tips subject innocent families to the embarrassment and terror of an investigation by Child Protective Services.

In his testimony, Klicka urged the subcommittee to include the following mandates in CAPTA in order for states to receive federal funding:

  • Require individuals reporting cases of child abuse to identify themselves.

  • Require all 50 states to penalize a person for submitting a false claim of abuse.

  • Hold social workers accountable to the same Fourth Amendment standards as police and other law enforcement authorities.

  • Require states to specifically recognize in their child welfare codes that a warrant, supported by probable cause, must be obtained before a social worker would be permitted to enter the home without consent of the parents. It is important for social workers to be on notice of their constitutionally required limitations when investigating claims.

  • Require social services to inform families of the allegations, and of their constitutional rights throughout the course of the investigation.

  • Finally, require states to recognize that parents who exercise reasonable corporal punishment are not child abusers, and should not be penalized for taking responsible action to raise their children properly.

Check our website often for updates on HSLDA's work with Congress to ensure parents' rights.

To read the full transcript of Chris Klicka's testimony, click the link below.

Testimony of Christopher J. Klicka — Hearing on the Reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

 Other Resources

Hearing on "Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect: Policy Directions for the Future"

Select Education Subcommittee Hears Testimony on How to Improve Child Abuse Prevention Law