For Immediate Release: Foster children need access to mandatory reporters
Canton, Ma., 02/23/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit founded by homeschool alumni to advocate for homeschooled children, is urging lawmakers to oppose House Bill 1760, which would overturn a department of social and health services rule preventing foster parents from homeschooling foster children in their care.
“Foster children are uniquely vulnerable to abuse. It is in their best interests to have regular access to multiple mandatory reporters as they do at school,” said Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “Because homeschooling can limit children’s access to mandatory reporters, it can remove these needed safeguards for foster children.”
CRHE maintains a database of severe and fatal child abuse and neglect cases that involved homeschooling. “We created the database in order to identify common themes,” said Coleman. “These themes in turn point to potential solutions. One of the themes we found is the use of homeschooling by foster and adoptive parents to isolate children and hide abuse.”
“It’s clear from cases we have catalogued, such as the Hart and Schumm cases, that abusive parents of foster children who attend school may begin homeschooling as soon as the adoption is finalized in order to better conceal their abuse,” said Dr. Chelsea McCracken, a research analyst who administers the organization’s database. “This Indicates that school attendance is serving as a protective function for foster children prior to adoption.”
In 2014, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin found that 47% of the school-age child torture victims she studied were removed from school to be homeschooled; in 2018, a state official in Connecticut found that 36% of children removed from school to be homeschooled lived in families that were subject to at least one prior child abuse or neglect report.
Officials in a number of states have become concerned about the role homeschooling can play in hiding child abuse and neglect. This year alone, officials in four different states—Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, and Louisiana—have proposed measures designed to provide homeschooled students with greater protections against abuse.
“We urge Washington lawmakers to maintain the status quo and leave the department and social health services rule against homeschooling foster children in place,” said Coleman. “Homeschooling can have many benefits, but not every population is well served by being homeschooled. Foster children need access to mandatory reporters and safe adults.”
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.