Americans serving in the military have accepted a great responsibility—a burden often shared by their families.
That’s why all of us here at Home School Legal Defense Association consider it a privilege to assist military families when they encounter difficulties related to homeschooling. I like to feel that by providing advocacy in this important area, HSLDA is freeing these men and women to focus on the all-important mission of defending our country.
This past school year, I helped a military family during an especially stressful time.
They had just moved to Florida. The husband was deployed overseas while his wife and six children were trying to unpack and get situated at their new post.
Unfortunately, one of the children had a medical emergency. The mother had to rush to the local hospital with her child while the remaining children stayed with the oldest, who was more than capable of caring for her siblings.
The mother didn’t know many people in the area, so she contacted a neighbor she had just met to look in on the children while she was at the hospital. While the woman did check up on the kids, she also reported the family to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).
What was the reason for this report to DCF? The neighbor said that the house was messy and that the oldest child was being homeschooled. Once the mother was contacted by a local caseworker, she reached out to HSLDA for help.
I spoke with the mother and learned that not all the boxes from their move had been unpacked and they were still setting up their beds. Apparently, this was the reason for the neighbor’s report that the house was messy.
While the mother confirmed that she was homeschooling her oldest and working with her 4-year-old, she explained that the middle four children had been enrolled in a local school.
The mother and I talked about how she could navigate the DCF investigation. The caseworker wanted to interview all the children, conduct a walk-through of the house, and even speak with the father stationed overseas. After preparing the mother, I talked with her husband and reassured him we would help his family through this situation.
Both parents decided to allow the caseworker to see all of the children and to talk with the oldest—in the presence of the mother.
I contacted the caseworker and provided her information about the family and their homeschool program. The caseworker was concerned that the oldest wanted to be homeschooled.
I pointed out to the caseworker that it was ultimately up to the parents to decide what means of education they provided for their children. The caseworker did acknowledge this.
After the caseworker spoke with the mother and saw the children, she asked if the family wanted any services or assistance. The mother declined, insisting that she and the children were fine.
Several weeks later, the family let me know that the caseworker had closed their case.