Know your rights or lose them!
By ID Dist. 1 Rep. Heather Scott
What if an Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) worker (sometimes referred to as Child Protective Services or CPS) showed up at your door with a police officer and said they had some questions for you concerning the treatment of your children? Would you know your rights or the Department’s authority?
Last year in Idaho there were 23,599 reported cases of neglect, abuse or abandonment brought to the attention of law enforcement or IDHW. A total of 10,159 of these reports resulted in a visit to a family’s home by a social worker, a police officer or both. Of those 10,159 visits, 8,432 (83%) were dismissed as unfounded!
Many parents are likely intimidated when these visits occur (especially when they bring along a uniformed police officer). Because of this, parents may forget they have certain constitutionally protected rights that have been proven time and time again through case law. Currently, Idaho social workers are NOT TELLING parents what their constitutional and legal rights are.
Social workers in Idaho are directed through their administrative rules to get into the home and access and interrogate your children. Once in the home, their administrative rules direct them to look for ways to provide services for your family. There have been many citizen complaints concerning CPS from across the state indicating social workers coerced their way into homes. Some of these CPS social workers have made claims to parents that they have more rights than police officers (which is not true). Many parents are fearful that if they object or push back against this unwanted probing and violation to their constitutional rights, their children will end up in a foster home. Remember, administrative rules cannot trump your constitutional rights.
Did you know if CPS:
Questions your children without your consent or presence (even in schools) – it is usually illegal.
Forces you to answer questions on your philosophies on parenting- it is illegal.
Takes your children from your home and immediately run forensic interviews and sexual assault exams on your children without your consent- it is illegal. (This has happened-even when kids are reported for educational neglect only!)
Threatens to call the police if you do not allow them in your home without a warrant- it is illegal.
You have constitutionally protected rights and if you do not know or understand them, they can be trampled on and violated. There are numerous lawsuits against CPS that have confirmed these rights. (https://idahocps.org/case-law/) Some of your rights include the following:
You have the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer questions.
You have the right to refuse entry to your home or other premises if there is no warrant of a court.
You have the right to consult with an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning.
You have the right to refuse the questioning of minor children in your home or on your property if there is no warrant to examine your children.
If you waive your rights, and change your mind during the investigation, you can inform IDHW immediately of your desire to exercise your rights.
Please educate yourself on these rights and share them with others.
Remember, Idaho requires mandatory reporting if you suspect abuse. That means reports can come from anyone anonymously and could include an angry ex-spouse, vengeful neighbor or stranger. Five (5%) percent of Idaho homes with children will get a knock on the door from a social worker this year alone. Remember of the 23,599 reports, only 1,727 had substantiated allegations after investigation.
Last week in the Idaho legislature, a bill I sponsored (HB 170) to require Health and Welfare to inform parents of their constitutional rights when they show up at a door was killed in the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee. In my opinion, Senators sided with a large, powerful government agency instead of empowering parents.
It is my goal to educate Idaho families of their constitutional rights when dealing with this agency or ANY government employee that shows up at your home. You are not obligated to let ANY government official in your home without consent by you, a search warrant, or probable cause with exigent circumstances.
It is my goal to get this information into the hands of ALL citizens with children in Idaho. Please help me by forwarding this information to other families. A new website has been set up where you can learn more about Idaho Health and Welfare policies, share your CPS story to help others be aware, and learn more about your constitutional rights when any government employee shows up at your door. You will also be able to find resources and tools to help understand the system and fight injustices. Please visit www.IdahoCPS.org or Facebook Idaho CPS to learn more on this very important topic.
Thank you for helping me to get this message out!
Rep. Heather Scott P.O. Box 134| Blanchard, Idaho 83804 HScott@House.Idaho.Gov www.RepHeatherScott.com 208-920-3120