In efforts to voice Texas families’ concerns, THSC corresponded in a series of letters regarding the Tutt case in Dallas, and a Children’s Protective Service (CPS) policy change, with Commissioner Specia of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), which oversees CPS. This exchange spurred an invitation to THSC from the government officials overseeing CPS for a meeting to discuss concerns about parental rights. This November, THSC officials, two THSC attorneys, and I, along with a State Legislator, met with the DFPS Commissioner as well as the Commissioner of Health and Human Services, which oversees DFPS.
Both Commissioners restated their support of the right of parents to teach their children at home, and that CPS has no policy targets or red flags concerning home schooling in an investigation of abuse or neglect. However, we stated our concern regarding the agency’s 2012 revision of a 2005 policy originally stating that home schooling of a family was not relevant to an investigation of abuse and neglect. The new policy now states that home schooling is relevant to such an investigation. In recent months, DFPS has restated and defended this policy using home schooling as a potential factor in an investigation of abuse and neglect.
I stated that, while I believe the Commissioner’s statements that they fully support the right of parents to home school and that CPS policy does not impact that, I also believe that the position that home schooling is relevant to an investigation sends the wrong message to case workers.The attorneys representing THSC gave examples of how CPS caseworkers do use the fact that a family is home schooling in investigations as a detrimental fact for innocent families.
In the course of conversation, we learned that DFPS now allows foster care families to home school on a case by case basis. This is a positive change from their previous policy that only foster care children who were in the process of being adopted could have the possibility of being home schooled by their foster care parents.
The agency officials accepted our concerns and told us they were in the process of reviewing the policies under discussion and would make changes, and would also make sure that training of caseworkers across the state ensured that everyone was aware of the new policies. THSC agreed to provide the agency with a document of basic facts about home schooling to be used in this training.
We are cautiously optimistic as we work with DFPS and HHS officials in the development of the new policy. We will continue to inform our Texas home school community of changes as they occur.
Watch the video update of this meeting.
Do you support these efforts? Are you able to give financially to Keep Texas Families Free? Visit thsc.org/donate.