Attorney Deborah G. Stevenson, Executive Director, NHELD
Tel.: (860) 354-3590
P.O. Box 704, Southbury, CT 06488
Cell: (203) 206-4282
Fax: (860) 354-9360
This is to let you know that Rep. Toni Walker and Senator Toni Harp have proposed several bills that, if adopted, will go a long way to protecting the rights of parents in Connecticut against the abuses of state government at the hands of the Department of Children and Families.
As you know, many of the abuses of DCF were directed last year toward parents who simply wanted to withdraw their child from enrollment in public school to home school them.
Routinely, however, the rights of other parents are abused by DCF all across Connecticut. At a recent public hearing, during which the legislature’s Select Committee on Children and Human Services Committee heard testimony during its investigation of DCF, Attorney Deborah Stevenson, testified, not as NHELD’s Executive Director, but as an attorney who represents parent’s rights in all aspects of education law, in juvenile court, and regarding DCF complaints of various kinds. Attorney Stevenson made several recommendations to the Committees as to how current laws regulating DCF’s actions should be changed to uphold the Constitutional rights of parents and to eliminate existing abuses.
We are pleased to inform you that Rep. Walker and Senator Harp, among others, heard the impassioned plea of the many parents who testified that day and have proposed several bills that incorporated many of the recommendations of Attorney Stevenson on their behalf. Although the bills are only in the “proposed” or “concept” form at this time, and the language in the bills likely will go through changes as the bills wind their way through the legislature, they do solidly protect the rights of parents. For example, some of the bills propose to require DCF to verify the facts before beginning an investigation of parents, require DCF to warn parents that they do not have to allow DCF workers into their home without a warrant or speak with DCF without an attorney present, that parents are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, that DCF cannot take a child from a parent without providing sufficient evidence at a hearing that there is reasonable cause for that action, and if DCF workers violate the Constitutional rights of parents, they are subject to fines, imprisonment, and civil lawsuits.
You can read the text of the bills at the following links:
Rep. Walker’s bills: http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABillStatus/CGAMemberBills.asp?dist_code=%27093%27&dist_name=093%20-%20Walker,%20Toni%20E.
Senator Harp’s bills: http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABillStatus/CGAMemberBills.asp?dist_code=%27S10%27&dist_name=S10%20-%20Harp,%20Toni%20Nathaniel
There will be a public hearing before the Select Committee on Children about these bills, although the exact date has not been selected yet. Some bills will also be heard Tuesday February 10, at 10:00 am in the Legislative Office Building, (LOB) Room 2A, by the Human Services Committee.
While this is not a “home schooling” issue, it is a “parents’ rights” issue. Because of that, we are providing this information to you. If you believe this is important to you, please pass it along to other parents. We hope that when the public hearing takes place, you and your friends will attend and voice your opinion about this important legislation. The legislators need to hear the opinions of the parents in this state.
Some of the bills:
1. Proposed S.B. No. 636 AN ACT CONCERNING THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE AND PRESERVATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IN PROCEEDINGS ALLEGING CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT BY A PARENT OR GUARDIAN.
2. Proposed H.B. No. 5980 AN ACT CONCERNING VERIFICATION OF INFORMATION BY THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT CASES.
3. Proposed H.B. No. 5981 AN ACT CONCERNING COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES AND PARENTS OR GUARDIANS IN JUVENILE MATTERS.
4. Proposed H.B. No. 5982 AN ACT CONCERNING DISCLOSURE OF DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES RECORDS.
5. Proposed H.B. No. 6145 AN ACT CONCERNING EVIDENCE IN DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES PROCEEDINGS.
6. Proposed H.B. No. 6149 AN ACT CONCERNING ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS OF FINDINGS OF CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT BY THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.
7. Proposed H.B. No. 6150 AN ACT REQUIRING INFORMATION TO BE PROVIDED TO PARENTS CONTACTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.