Later today, the House of Representatives plans on voting on House of Representatives 485 (H.R. 485), “Stronger CAPTA,” a reauthorization of the Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
HSLDA has long worked on reforming CAPTA, which directs how numerous child welfare agencies across the country operate. While H.R. 485 would put a handful of those reforms into place, it includes one proposal too onerous to allow the bill to pass: a national child abuse registry.
H.R. 485 calls for the formation of “an electronic system that allows states to share data from their child abuse and neglect registries with other states.” Essentially, it would take currently existing state registries and nationalize them. Like most of its state counterparts, the national registry would not provide due process safeguards to ensure that innocent families are not wrongly placed on the registry.
Under the current law, a person does not need to be convicted or even charged with a crime to be put on a registry. A name can be added to the list simply on the word of a child welfare investigator. And then, although the listing could be appealed, it could take months or even years to get a name removed from the list. The reason for this is that CAPTA does not require any form of due process for state registries.
Registries are helpful tools for dealing with actual child abusers. But HSLDA frequently handles cases of homeschool parents erroneously placed on a state child abuse registry due to misfiled paperwork and overzealous CPS investigators. H.R. 485 would exacerbate this issue and make life harder for homeschool parents across the nation.
By providing a system to link these registries, this bill will take the damage caused by an improper listing and spread it nationwide. For example, someone currently on the registry may be barred from having certain kinds of jobs in the state where they are listed. A national registry would mean that someone who is wrongly listed could have trouble finding employment anywhere in the United States.
Please call your congressman immediately and ask them to vote “no” on H.R. 485.