January 3, 2003

Update on CAPTA

Now that the Senate has changed hands, Home School Legal Defense Association's CAPTA amendments are poised to become law early in 2003.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is a huge government program and funding mechanism designed to support the child welfare agencies in all 50 states. HSLDA attorney Chris Klicka was asked to testify before Congress concerning CAPTA in November of 2001. The House adopted two of the five amendments he offered to reform the child welfare system during the 2002 session. In October of 2002, the Senate was poised to adopt the two amendments with the reauthorization of CAPTA. The legislation was delayed, however, by the various political wranglings of Senator Paul Wellstone, chairman of the Senate subcommittee that controlled this issue.

These two amendments are important for all home schoolers and innocent parents subject to child abuse investigations. The first amendment will require all 50 states to mandate that social workers explain the allegations to the accused at the first incident of contact by the social worker. One of the most frequent problems HSLDA lawyers confront is social workers who refuse to tell the family why they are being investigated. Many social workers insist on entry into the home and interrogating the children before they will reveal the allegations. With the federal law soon to be on our side, HSLDA attorneys will easily be able to force social workers to tell the families of what they are accused.

The other HSLDA amendment that was adopted is a requirement that all 50 states mandate a process for training social workers in their duty to protect the Constitutional and statutory rights of those who are being investigated. This, of course, would include awareness training in the Fourth Amendment protections of individuals to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant signed by a judge. HSLDA lawyers regularly negotiate with social workers who are not aware of their Fourth Amendment limitations. In other words, many social workers do not realize that the family has the right to refuse consent to the social worker's entry into their home.

HSLDA is excited about these two amendments that have been formally adopted in full by the House and are waiting on the Senate's final approval. HSLDA is already working with both the Senate and House staff to ensure that these amendments will remain in the final version agreed upon by the House and Senate.

HSLDA will work with all 50 states to help with the implementation as much as possible so these amendments are secured in each state.

For more background information on CAPTA visit: