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HSLDA’s mission is primarily to advance homeschooling rights, and this extends to helping families whose decision to homeschool subjects them to suspicions of abuse or neglect.
For example, sometimes a report to child protective services (CPS) arises from a misunderstanding about homeschooling—a neighbor may see children playing outside during school hours and think that the parents are allowing them to be truant. Whether the report indicates actual abuse is occurring or not, some CPS investigators and law enforcement personnel then insist they be allowed to interview the children and search the family’s home without a warrant. They may refuse to tell the parents the allegations against them and, if the parents are hesitant about allowing the interview or home visit, may use threats of removing the children to get the parents to comply.
We agree with what the United States Court of Appeals said in the Calabretta case: “The government’s interest in the welfare of children embraces not only protecting children from physical abuse, but also protecting children’s interest in the privacy and dignity of their homes and in the lawfully exercised authority of their parents.”
However, current CPS and judicial practice often treats child abuse investigations as an exception to traditional constitutional rules that protect children and parents from unnecessary government intervention, especially during the early stages of a CPS investigation. We assist our members in these initial contacts with CPS investigators to ensure that their constitutional rights are protected.