Home School Legal Defense Association

P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, VA 20134



For Immediate Release Contact: Ian Slatter
June 26, 2003 (540)338-8663

PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNS FAMILY
PROTECTION BILL

New law protects innocent families from overly aggressive social workers



Washington, DC - President Bush, yesterday, signed the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003. The new law will help protect innocent families against overly intrusive social workers. "Over the years thousands of homeschool families have been victimized by social workers operating on nothing more than a tip from an unknown stranger," said Michael Farris General Counsel for Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Michael Farris joined President Bush along with Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, Senator Judd Gregg, Majority Leader Tom Delay and Representatives Boehner and Hoekstra for the signing ceremony, which was held in the Oval Office.

In its 20-year history, HSLDA has handled thousands of cases arising from anonymous tips made to social workers concerning the conduct of homeschooling families. These tips, often supplied by those holding a grudge against home education, are investigated aggressively, with demands being made to inspect the bodies of homeschool children or to have interviews with three year olds outside the presence of their parents. Such aggressiveness, in a system which presumes guilt, can result in needless pain and anxiety.

HSLDA championed three new changes. First, families will now be required to be told the nature of the accusations against them at the first contact with the social worker. With this information, families will be able to legally challenge the social worker and demand that a warrant be obtained before interviews or investigations are conducted. Since warrants can only issue from a judge on the basis of probable cause, and not from senseless accusations based on anonymous tips, overzealous cases can now be efficiently weeded out without undue stress. Not only will this benefit innocent families, but it will free social workers to allow for additional focus on cases where true abuse is likely occurring.

The second provision will require that social workers be provided with additional training in the constitutional rights of citizens. Social workers will be advised that the Constitution protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. The third pertains to citizen advisory boards which can hear complaints against overly aggressive social workers.

"This is a victory for innocent homeschool families who have been failed by the social services system," said Farris. "Congress and the President have done their job," he added.

If your organization would like to schedule an interview with Michael Farris please contact Ian Slatter, Director of Media Relations at (540) 338 8663 or via e-mail Ian@hslda.org.

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a 20 year old, 75,000 member non-profit organization and the preeminent association advocating the legal right of parents to home school their children.