Tuesday, July 14, 2015


That is how many groups and organizations feel about the new background check law. It's no wonder the General Assembly was bombarded with questions and complaints causing them to immediately introduce another bill to amend Act 153. The bad thing is House Bill 1276 passed too quickly to really solve the enormous amount of unintended consequences they never predicted.

And we regret that we did NOT get the exemption amendment we wanted. 
Remember that with Act 153, we were led to believe that co-ops led and taught by parents will be exempt. That was false information. It kept us from opposing the vote on the floor.

It's been a disheartening on-the-job experience learning about omnibus bills and Act 153 is such.

By definition from Duhaime's Law Dictionary, an Omnibus Bill is: "A draft law before a legislature which contains more than one substantive matter, or several minor matters which have been combined into one bill, ostensibly for the sake of convenience." Apparently, the strategy is to force the hands of the legislature to approve or defeat the whole legislative package. It can be packed with diverse issues and subjects but the goal is to pass it quickly by limiting the opportunity for debate and scrutiny. It's a disconcerting practice to be sure.

It only took a little over a month from the time the memorandum for the amendment went out until it was on the Governor's desk. Whether you feel impressed or frustrated, frankly it might take a while before we see the text of the new statute and the actual administrative. bureaucratic law with regard to its full application.

For now, know that the law - PA Act 153 of 2014 - has been amended and House Bill 1276 is now PA Act No. 15 of 2015. But what does it all mean? 

Looking at the final text of HB1276, I believe there is reason to suggest that homeschool co-ops may be exempt, but the legislature has assigned the details to the Department of Human Services. Some State Representatives are telling their constituents that Amendments to the Clearances Law (Act 153) excludes homeschool co-ops, but there is nothing written to show that.

Some changes are:
"Under the new law, volunteers must obtain the clearances if they have direct volunteer contact, meaning that they have care, supervision, guidance or control and routine interaction with children. Also, all employees and adult volunteers subject to the background check clearances will be required to recertify all of those clearances every five years, instead of every three years.

"The measure also makes a number of clarifications with respect to the cost, portability and recertification of the two main clearances – the Department of Human Services child abuse clearance and the State Police criminal background check. The two $10 fees are waived for volunteers and are reduced to $8 each for employees.

"Additionally, the deadline for new volunteers to obtain their clearances has been moved from July 1 to Aug. 25. All other deadlines remain the same: Dec. 31, 2015, for existing employees. For existing volunteers who never had needed clearances, deadline is July 1, 2016. New prospective employees must obtain them before starting employment.

"More information about Act 153 and the other new laws resulting from the child protection package are available at KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov.

CHAP maintains that while we appreciate the intent of the bill to protect children, children do not need to be protected from their parents. Parents do not need to be licensed by the state or have criminal background checks performed on them to meet together and to teach their children. Co-ops are usually just parents teaching their own children. These private, parent-organized groups should NOT have to get a license or conduct background checks in order to operate. It is still unclear whether a background check is needed for a family member or friend to watch your children, and who knows, maybe soon clearances might be required to parent your own child in your home!

Government bureaucracy is not worth putting your faith in. I recently learned about Rhonda, a fellow homeschooler, and her husband who both had gotten these clearances in order to host international students. As a result, they ended up being one of the 21.5 M to have their Social Security numbers stolen and someone used it to file their federal income tax electronically. She said, "It still hasn't been resolved! The IRS said it could be up to 180 days. It has affected our kid's college financial aid applications." Rhonda expressed in frustration, "Can you imagine? Forcing people to have background checks and then not protecting the personal information?"

DHS and CPS has power to make regulations that are also alarming.
CPS follows their own set of rules - often contrary to law on the books. They can wreak havoc in the lives of law abiding citizens and ignore cases like the recent Harrisburg murder due to neglect and under DHS "supervision".

We have cause to be extremely concerned about the definition of "perpetrator" which has "parent" as the first definition and the subliminal messaging there. In Scotland, law requires a social worker to be assigned to each family bringing home a new baby.
Dr. Brian Ray, in an article responding to claim that homeschooling is a hotbed of child abuse writes, "No research has found a correlation between homeschooling and child abuse, let alone a causal connection."

The biggest problem with this bill is the mandatory reporting - even by 14 year-olds. Everybody will be mandated to report anyone based on very slight reasons as outlined in the law and social workers will be required to investigate all reports. "Reasonable" suspicion is no longer the rule - just "suspicion".

If CPS visits your home, they will be able to question you regarding homeschooling if they see any school work laying around. It happened to this family here. This Maryland father was falsely accused of abuse and both their children were removed from their loving home. In Arkansas, the Stanley's 7 children were removed from their home because the parents administered mineral supplements. Medical kidnapping has become very common and will only worsen as vaccines are pushed and exemptions are removed, such as the very recent happenings in California. So we may wonder, what is next? Academic kidnapping? The Tutt family in Texas is already suffering that injustice too.

Given the neglect case that occurred in Harrisburg by the Children and Youth Services, and abuses in foster care, the thought of social workers monitoring Pennsylvania homeschool families bring alarm and an ache knowing CPS abuse and harassment will rise.

Praise be to God that even in uncertain times, we can be more than optimistic -- we can be hopeful. God is only a prayer away and He gave a clear mandate about which we can be confident about.

"After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles,
the officials and the rest of the people,
'Don’t be afraid of them.
Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome,
and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters,
your wives and your homes.'"
~ Nehemiah 4:14 (NIV)

Mark your calendars and plan to attend CHAP HELP Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, September 8, 2015. We will gather to encourage and pray - for one another and for our legislators. We will commit our state and our nation to our Almighty God who alone is able to deliver us. There will be guest speakers you don't want to miss. Details will be posted here.

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