Bipartisan Coalition Letter to Protect Parental Rights

Dear Champion of Parental Rights,

This morning United Family Advocates, the bipartisan coalition with whom we are working on family law reforms, put our finishing touches on a letter to Congress outlining things we hope to add and to avoid in the upcoming re-authorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).

The 16-page document will be ready for public presentation in the next day or two, and when it is it will be posted on this page of our website. PDF Here

Letter Highlights

In the meantime, here are the highlights of the positions we have taken, joined by activists on both sides of the political aisle:

The current system takes too many children from innocent families. “[A] child abuse investigation is, itself, a trauma.”

Foster care, though sometimes necessary, compounds the trauma.

CAPTA should be amended to expand protections for innocent families, including insuring fairer investigations, providing a notice of rights, and ceasing intervention against reasonably prudent parents. Further, services offered to help families in poverty or in other areas of need should be voluntary.

Of special importance, the standard for child removal must comport with the guarantee of Due Process provided in the U.S. Constitution.

“Safety Plans” should be presented as voluntary unless they really are legally binding. The current practice of initiating such “agreements” under threat of taking children must be corrected.

Innocent parents should not be added to child abuse registries, and should be able to have their name expunged from such registries through appropriate appeal and a fair hearing.

Poverty should never be confused with neglect. Parents should not lose their children simply because they are poor.

“Confidential” reporting should replace “anonymous” reporting, which will severely curb the abuse of child abuse hotlines. The hotline should not be a means for an embittered ex to accuse a fit parent of abuse when there is none. Requiring the caller to provide basic identifying information to the hotline (though still not to the accused) will go a long way to curing this problem.

We also rejected ideas of a national child abuse registry and of using predictive analytics to try to forecast who will be abusive or negligent, a system ripe for bias and abuse.

Broadly Diverse, But United

The coalition includes such conservative organizations as the Texas Public Policy Institute alongside such liberal champions as Richard Wexler and NYU Law Professor Martin Guggenheim.

Working together, we are able to find a welcoming audience in both the Democrat-led House and the Republican-led U.S. Senate, allowing us to make a difference in support of these family rights principles we all hold in common.

In short, it is our hope this effort will effect real change for parents in child abuse investigation situations for years to come.

Thank you for standing with us as we stand with respected allies from across the spectrum to promote the protection of your family through your parental rights.