I have started a Chapter of VOCAL here in South Florida...Victims of Child Abuse Law...
A national organization call VOCAL, and I have decided to start a chapter of it here in South Florida for all those
who have had accusations and allegations brought upon them that are false.
The Social Worker At Your Door: 10 Helpful Hints
By Christopher J. Klicka, Senior Counsel for the
Home School Legal Defense Association
More and more frequently, home schoolers are turned in on child abuse hotlines to social service agencies. Families who
do not like home schoolers can make an anonymous phone call to the child abuse hotline and fabricate abuse stories about home
schoolers. The social worker then has an obligation to investigate. Each state has a different policy for social workers,
but generally they want to come into the family's home and speak with the children separately. To allow either of these to
occur involves great risk to the family.
The home school parent, however, should be very cautious when an individual identifies himself as a social worker. In fact,
there are several tips that a family should follow:
- Always get the business card of the social worker. This way, when you call your attorney or Home School Legal Defense
Association, if you are a member, the attorney will be able to contact the social worker on your behalf. If the situation
is hostile, HSLDA members should immediately call our office and hand the phone out the door so an HSLDA lawyer can talk to
the social worker. We have a 24 hour emergency number.
- Find out the allegations. Do not fall for the frequently used tactic of the social worker who would tell the unsuspecting
victims that they can only give you the allegations after they have come into your home and spoken to your child separately.
You generally have the right to know the allegations without allowing them in your home.
- Never let the social worker in your house without a warrant or court order. All the cases that you have heard about where
children are snatched from the home usually involve families waiving their Fourth Amendment right to be free from such searches
and seizures by agreeing to allow the social worker to come inside the home. A warrant requires "probable cause" which does
not include an anonymous tip or a mere suspicion. This is guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as
interpreted by the courts. (In extremely rare situations, police may enter a home without a warrant if there are exigent circumstances,
i.e., police are aware of immediate danger or harm to the child.)
However, in some instances, social workers or police threaten to use force to come into a home. If you encounter a situation
which escalates to this level, record the conversation if at all possible, but be sure to inform the police officer or social
worker that you are doing this. If entry is going to be made under duress you should say and do the following: "I am closing
my front door, but it is unlocked. I will not physically prevent you from entering, and I will not physically resist you in
any way. But you do not have my permission to enter. If you open my door and enter, you do so without my consent, and I will
seek legal action for an illegal entry."
- Never let the social worker talk to your children alone without a court order. On nearly every other incident concerning
our members, HSLDA has been able to keep the social worker away from the children. On a few occasions, social workers have
been allowed to talk with children, particularly where severe allegations are involved. In these instances, an attorney, chosen
by the parent, has been present. At other times, HSLDA had children stand by the door and greet the social worker, but not
be subject to any questioning.
- Tell the official that you will call back after you speak with your attorney. Call your attorney or HSLDA, if you are
- Ignore intimidations. Normally, social workers are trained to bluff. They will routinely threaten to acquire a court order,
knowing full well that there is no evidence on which to secure an order. In 98 percent of the contacts that HSLDA handles,
the threats turn out to be bluffs. However, it is always important to secure an attorney in these matters, since there are
occasions where social workers are able to obtain a court order with flimsy evidence. HSLDA members should call our office
in such situations.
- Offer to give the officials the following supporting evidence:
- a statement from your doctor, after he has examined your children, if the allegations involve some type of physical abuse;
- references from individuals who can vouch for your being good parents;
- evidence of the legality of your home school program. If your home school is an issue, HSLDA attorneys routinely assist
member families by convincing social workers of this aspect of an investigation.
- Bring a tape recorder and/or witnesses to any subsequent meeting. Often times HSLDA will arrange a meeting between the
social worker and our member family after preparing the parents on what to discuss and what not to discuss. The discussion
at the meeting should be limited to the specific allegations and you should avoid telling them about past events beyond what
they know. Usually, anonymous tips are all they have to go on, which is not sufficient to take someone to court. What you
give them can and will be used against you.
- Inform your church, and put the investigation on your prayer chain. Over and over again, HSLDA has seen God deliver home
schoolers from this scary scenario.
- Avoid potential situations that could lead to a child welfare investigation.
- Conduct public relations with your immediate neighbors and acquaintances regarding the legality and success of home schooling.
- Do not spank children in public.
- Do not spank someone else's child unless they are close Christian friends.
- Avoid leaving young children at home alone.
In order for a social worker to get a warrant to come and enter a home and interview children separately, he is normally
required, by both statute and the U.S. Constitution, to prove that there is some "cause." This is a term that is synonymous
with the term "probable cause". "Probable cause" or cause shown is reliable evidence that must be corroborated by other evidence
if the tip is anonymous. In other words, an anonymous tip alone and mere suspicion is not enough for a social worker to obtain
There have been some home-schooled families who have been faced with a warrant even though there was not probable cause.
HSLDA has been able to overturn these in court so that the order to enter the home was never carried out. Home School Legal
Defense Association is committed to defending every member family who is being investigated by social workers, provided the
allegations involve home schooling. In instances when the allegations have nothing to do with home schooling, HSLDA will routinely
counsel most member families on how to meet with the social worker and will talk to the social worker to try to resolve the
situation. If it cannot be resolved, which it normally can be in most instances by HSLDA's involvement, the family is responsible
for hiring their own attorney.
HSLDA is beginning to work with states to reform the child welfare laws to guarantee more freedom for parents and better
protection for their parental rights. HSLDA will be sending out Alerts to its members in various states where such legislation
is drafted and submitted as a bill.
For further information on how to deal with social workers, HSLDA recommends Home Schooling: The Right Choice, which
was written with the intention of informing home school parents of their rights in order to prevent them from becoming a statistic.
Federal statistics have shown that up to 60 percent of children removed from homes, upon later review, should never have been
removed. The child welfare system is out of control, and we need to be prepared. To obtain The Right Choice or join
the Home School Legal Defense Association, call 540-338-5600, or write HSLDA, P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, VA 20134.