|HSLDA News||May 27, 2003|
House and Senate Reach Agreement on CAPTA
Members of the U.S. House and Senate met in conference on May 22 and approved the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003. Amendments recommended by the Home School Legal Defense Association remain intact.
"The passage of HSLDA's recommended amendments to the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act is a giant step forward for American families," says HSLDA President Mike Smith. "
The Keeping Children and Families Safe Act reauthorizes and modifies the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and related law. These programs generally support activities to prevent and treat child abuse and family violence.
According to the conference committee press release, the conference agreement represents:
[A] comprehensive bill designed to both prevent child abuse and family violence before it occurs and treat instances of child abuse or maltreatment with community based partnerships and best practice treatment methods.
HSLDA believes those who abuse children should be severely punished. Yet HSLDA has assisted many innocent families who are wrongfully accused of child abuse, and prosecuted by over zealous social workers.
"Provisions of the CAPTA reauthorization bill now protect innocent families," says Mr. Smith. "Social workers must now tell parents the nature of the allegations against them. States must now train social workers to consider the rights of those parents under investigations."
In November 2001, Home School Legal Defense Association Senior Counsel, Chris Klicka, testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Select Education about this legislation. Klicka convinced the subcommittee to add two significant amendments to protect families' due process rights when faced with a social worker investigation.
The conference committee pointed out its agreement with HSLDA's position stating:
The bill appropriately addresses a growing concern over parents being falsely accused of child abuse and neglect and the aggressiveness of social workers in their child abuse investigations. It increases public education opportunities to strengthen the public's understanding of the child protection system and appropriate reporting of suspected incidents of child maltreatment. It also fosters cooperation between parents and child protective service workers by requiring caseworkers to inform parents of the allegations made against them, and improves the training opportunities and requirements for child protective services personnel regarding the extent and limits of their legal authority and the legal rights of parents and legal guardians.
The final vote on the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act is likely to take place in June, 2003.
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