In the right settings, homeschooling can offer a positive and child-centered educational environment that encourages children to thrive and achieve. Such homeschooling should be encouraged. However, when abusive or neglectful parents homeschool, the consequences can be severe. In 47% of school-aged cases examined in a 2014 study of child torture the victim was removed from school to be homeschooled; this homeschooling allowed the parents to isolate the victim and corresponded with an escalation of abuse.
In order to ensure that homeschooling is used only to educate children, and not to hide abuse, we recommend that lawmakers create the following provisions:
- Background checks: Bar parents from homeschooling if they have committed a crime that would prevent them from teaching in a public school.
- A flagging system: Bar parents from homeschooling if they or anyone in the household have previously had a founded abuse or neglect report.
- Risk assessments: Conduct risk assessments when parents begin to homeschool after a recent child abuse report or concerning history of reports.
- Mandatory reporter contact: Ensure that homeschooled children are seen by mandatory reporters via academic assessments, medical visits, or other means.
- Medical care: Require homeschooled children to have the same medical visits required of children who attend public school.
- Disability services: Require parents of children with disabilities to create annual services plans outlining the therapies and interventions their child will receive.
Proposals and Statutes
CRHE Testimony and Draft Legislation:
- At-Risk Children Draft Legislation (Florida)
- Written Testimony and Proposed Amendments (Virgin Islands)
- Testimony before Iowa Government Oversight Committee Members (Iowa)
Child Fatality Task Force Reviews
- Child Protection in Pennsylvania: Proposed Recommendations, November 2012
- The Nubia Report, Florida Department of Children and Families, March 2011
- State Child Fatality Review, North Carolina Division of Social Services, June 2008
Background check statutes:
Flagging system and risk assessments proposals:
- PA Senate Bill 32 (2013) (Pennsylvania)
- OH Senate Bill 248 (2013) (Ohio)
- KY Senate Bill 181 (2017) (Kentucky)
Mandatory reporter contact statutes and proposals:
- 24 P.S. § 13-1327.1(e)(2) (Pennsylvania)
- ORS 339.035 and OAR 581-021-0026 (Oregon)
- MI House Bill 4498 (2015) (Michigan)
- IA State File 138 (2017) (Iowa)
Medical care statute and proposal:
Disabilities services statutes:
- ORS 339.035 and OAR 581-021-0029 (Oregon)
- 24 P.S. § 13-1327 (d) (Pennsylvania)
- ND Chapter 15.1-23 (North Dakota)
For a full review of what states currently do to protect at-risk homeschooled children, and what lawmakers in some states have attempted, and further commentary on the state statutes listed above, see our at-risk children issue brief.