SB 428: Sen Leising targets homeschool families

This week, Republican Senator Jean Leising introduced SB 428 which specifically targets homeschooling families in Indiana for scrutiny. The bill itself amends the current practice of gathering information on child fatalities involving families of adoptees. With this bill, the Indiana Child Services report would be required to report annually on how many child fatalities “solely received home based instruction”. 

Indiana has no legal standard for “home based instruction” and Indiana code classifies a home school as a non-accredited, nonpublic school. Virtual public school programs and charter schools also occur in the home. Unclear data and reporting will make this bad bill even worse.

Why is Sen. Leising targeting homeschooled families? 

Inclusion of “home based instruction” in reporting of child fatalities is a curious strategy for combating child abuse. No known data indicates homeschooling as a risk factor for child abuse or neglect. If anything, research tends to find homeschool children are safer, better socialized, less likely to engage in risky behavior, and receive better nutrition. 

Studies for decades have identified numerous risk factors for child abuse and neglect, but home education is not a risk factor. In 2016, the Obama Administration formed the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF). The final CECANF report did not find homeschooling to be a risk factor, but a history of Child Protective Services (CPS) contact was the “single strongest predictor of later death from injury.” 

In 2017, Pennsylvania also conducted a statewide study to identify risk factors involved in child fatalities.

In response to Pennsylvania’s Annual Child Protective Services Report (2016), Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a special report on the state of the child and the strengths and challenges of PA’s child-welfare system. Despite spending nearly 2 billion dollars to protect children, PA saw 46 children die (and 79 near deaths) due to child abuse. Nearly half of these now deceased children’s families were known to CYS. Auditor DePasquale summarizes the 82 page report in this press release in which he states that “[o]verregulation and a shortage of critical resources have resulted in kids being left in situations that led to their deaths. It’s that simple.”

complied by Dan Beasley, HSLDA attorney

Child abuse is never acceptable and diverting government resources away from children who need it most is irresponsible. Effectively reducing child abuse and fatalities starts with concentrating on documented risk factors. Targeting parents because they educate their children at home is an attack on the family and further seeks to erode parental rights. 

On Thursday, January 16, IAHE Action requested a response from Senator Leising and shared our concerns that this bill unfairly targets homeschool families. This morning, we were told that the Senator just wants to know “where these fatalities are occurring”. But, it’s clear that the proposed bill is not supported by the factual data on abuse, but is a targeted attack on the homeschool community.

Please call the senators on the Family and Children Services Committee to stop this bill. 

While letters and emails are encouraged, please be sure to call for the greatest impact. Placing a phone call is far more effective at sending a message to our elected officials. Keep your comments courteous and polite. 

Senate Family and Children Services Committee:

Sen. Ronald Grooms, Chairman

Sen. Greg Walker, Ranking Majority Member

Republican Senators:

Democrat Senators: 

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