Make Homeschool Safe Act

Take a stand for homeschooled children’s right to be safe, to learn, and to access resources.

It's time to make homeschool safe.

Our nation has laws that ensure children can get a quality education, access health care services, and be protected from abuse. 

But those laws are leaving millions of children behind: homeschooled children. 

It’s time for that to change.

The Make Homeschool Safe Act protects homeschooled children’s right to be safe, to learn, and to access resources. Created by legal experts who were homeschooled, this model legislation is a blueprint for advocates and legislators to create common-sense protections for homeschooled children in their state.

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How the Make Homeschool Safe Act helps children

  • Under current law: 47 states allow convicted sex offenders, child abusers, and others with violent records to homeschool children. All 50 states allow a child to be withdrawn from school to be homeschooled during and after a child welfare investigation.
  • Under the Make Homeschool Safe Act: People convicted of specific violent crimes, including those against children, are banned from homeschooling. No one can withdraw a child from school to homeschool them within three years of a child abuse or neglect investigation.
  • Why it matters: Parents and guardians convicted of violent crimes or under investigation for abuse should not be allowed to isolate children from public help and accountability. Homeschooled children deserve the same protection from abusive educators that their peers in public school have.
  • Under current law: 11 states don’t require home educators to tell anyone they’re homeschooling their child. Other states do require home educators to enroll their homeschooled children, but they don’t follow up with the family if the enrollment doesn’t happen.
  • Under the Make Homeschool Safe Act: Home educators must notify their local superintendent that they intend to homeschool a child at the start of each school year. If they don’t do it within 30 days of notifying the superintendent, they must enroll their child in a public or private school.
  • Why it matters: Homeschool enrollment helps ensure that no homeschooled child falls through the cracks. It also helps prevent abusers from using homeschooling to isolate a child away from community members and mandatory reporters.
  • Under current law: 14 states don’t require home educators to teach their homeschooled child any specific school subjects.
  • Under the Make Homeschool Safe Act: Homeschooled children must learn the same subjects that children in their state’s public schools do.
  • Why it matters: Some parents use homeschooling to deliberately keep their child from learning math, science, or other core subjects. Others neglect their children’s education entirely. Ensuring homeschooled children learn the same subjects their public school peers help protect their right to an education.
  • Under current law: Only one state consistently assesses homeschooled children’s academic progress.
  • Under the Make Homeschool Safe Act: Home educators must provide a portfolio or test scores showing the homeschooled child’s academic progress each year, including an in-person assessment of the child’s progress by a professional.
  • Why it matters: A portfolio review is the best way to evaluate a homeschool, as portfolios can reflect a much wider variety of educational styles and methods, but test scores can also demonstrate basic academic progress. The in-person assessment means that the child has at least annual access to a mandatory reporter. It also offers reassurance that the child is the one actually completing the work, and an opportunity for families and school districts to address the child’s educational or developmental needs.
  • Under current law: 40 states don’t require home educators to have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Under the Make Homeschool Safe Act: Home educators must have a high school diploma, GED, or other qualifications to homeschool a child.
  • Why it matters: Home educators should have at least basic firsthand knowledge of what’s usually included in a grade school education.
  • Under current law: In all 50 states, it’s legal for parents to refuse to create citizenship documents for their child, such as a birth certificate or Social Security number. 
  • Under the Make Homeschool Safe Act: Parents must provide copies of their homeschooled child’s identification, immunization, and academic records to the local superintendent.
  • Why it matters: As a child grows, they need personal identification documents to confirm their citizenship or residency, be legally employed, and access resources and programs. Academic records show that a child is learning, help them create diplomas and transcripts, and help them with placement if they later enroll in a public or private school. External records of these documents and of the child’s existence are crucial, especially in cases of extreme isolation.
  • Under current law: Homeschooled children have inconsistent access to public school classes, sports, and other activities nationwide. 
  • Under the Make Homeschool Safe Act: Homeschooled children must be allowed to take part in classes, sports, and other activities available at their local public school as long as fairness and eligibility requirements are met, and schools receive appropriate funding.
  • Why it matters: Homeschooled children deserve an equal playing field with their peers in public school. Extracurricular access is an important part of college enrollment, career preparedness, and educational enrichment. 
  • Under current law: Homeschooled children are only guaranteed access to public school assessments for disabilities like ADHD and dyslexia. But they don’t have guaranteed access to services.
  • Under the Make Homeschool Safe Act: Homeschooled children are guaranteed access to both assessments and services to meet their developmental needs. Home educators also have the tools to address their child’s individual concerns.
  • Why it matters: Every child has the right to an education that prepares them for an open future, including homeschooled children.
  • Under current law: 46 states don’t require proof of immunizations for homeschooled children or have any other requirements to prevent medical neglect.
  • Under the Make Homeschool Safe Act: Homeschools must follow the same state policies for immunizations as other types of schools, and homeschooled students must have an annual well-child visit. Homeschooled children have access to the free hearing and vision checks, counselors, and other resources that children in public school have.
  • Why it matters: Homeschooling shouldn’t be treated as nothing more than an immunization exemption, but as a legitimate educational choice that meets a child’s individual needs. Well-child visits are essential for both a child’s individual health and for public health. A simple hearing or vision screening can radically improve a child’s life.

The stakes are high

Homeschool laws nationwide are so lax that it’s easy for abusive or neglectful parents to isolate, hide, and harm their children. We can’t know how many children have been harmed, but there’s a lot to learn from the data that is available.

We’ve tracked over 400 cases of child abuse and neglect in homeschools available through public records, and they give us a window into the world of abused homeschooled children.

These cases make it clear: Homeschooled children urgently need stronger legal protections.

Nothing about us without us

“Our identity as homeschool alumni isn’t incidental — it is integral to the fight to protect homeschooled children from abuse and neglect.”

Hear from government relations director Samantha Field why the lived experience of homeschooled people must be built into any legislation that impacts them. 

I joined CRHE as a volunteer shortly after we were founded, and our core has always been the same: our identity as people who were homeschooled. Whenever I talk about CRHE, my opening line is, “We are a nonprofit founded and run by homeschool alumni,” because that is the most important fact to know about us. Our team represents a spectrum of homeschool experiences: secular or religious backgrounds, neglectful or fulfilling educations, healthy socialization or complete isolation. We know firsthand what it’s like to grow up in homeschool communities, use homeschool resources, and live under homeschool culture and policy. And over the years, we’ve worked with thousands of homeschooled students and alumni who need help dealing with their experiences. We know the homeschool world inside and out.

Our identity as homeschool alumni isn’t incidental — it is integral to the fight to protect homeschooled children from abuse and neglect. Trying to help homeschooled children without first listening to people who were homeschooled is an exercise in frustration. I have encountered so many earnest legislators eager to help. But the difficult truth is that they often introduce bills that appear to solve the problem, but would not actually help the children they’re trying to protect. 

Why? Because these legislators don’t know what it’s like to be homeschooled. They don’t understand the culture, the motivations, the realities. But we at CRHE do. And this understanding informs every aspect of our work. 

That is why we’ve created the Make Homeschool Safe Act. This model legislation is informed by three crucial lanes of expertise: the lived experiences of homeschooled people, the best available research on homeschooling, and best practices in the fields of child welfare and education. It was written by people who are both homeschool alumni and legal experts. And it’s designed so that anyone in any state can take our expertise and apply it to their state’s needs and statutes.

The Make Homeschool Safe Act is a vision for a positive, enriching, and safe experience for every homeschooled child, one that prepares them for an open future. We hope you find it insightful and helpful. And we hope it will inspire you to take action.

With gratitude, 

Samantha Field

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