Published On: Sat, Feb 17th, 2018

Hawaii Sen Kai Kahele withdraws bill to require background checks for parents who homeschool

After a brief backlash and nearly 1,000 pieces of testimony, Hawaii state Sen. Kai Kahele requested that his bill requiring background checks for parents who homeschool their children be withdrawn.

Senate Bill 2323 was deferred by the Education Committee late Wednesday afternoon.

The bill would require Child Welfare Services to conduct a child abuse and neglect inquiry into a child whose parents or legal guardian want to homeschool. That information would then go to the Department of Education so the state could do a background check before approving or denying the applicant.

Parents who home-school their children believe the bill discriminates against them and they spoke out…loudly.

Senator Kahele, whose wife was homeschooled, said the bill was never intended to be discriminatory or disrespectful.

“The democratic process works. And it’s evident today. When hundreds and hundreds of parents and children came to the legislature to make their voices heard and their voices were heard,” said Kahele.

Kahele said his bill stemmed from two high-profile child abuse deaths in Hilo, citing two cases (one from 1997, one from 2016).

World. wng went after the State Senator: “…none of the research on child abuse lists homeschooling as a risk factor. If he really wants to help children, Kahele should read the 2016 report from the U.S. Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, which urges state and federal governments to make comprehensive changes to the country’s child welfare systems. The commission suggests lawmakers target reforms to at-risk populations and factors that make neglect and death more likely.

What are the factors that put children at risk? Here’s a sampling of the commission’s findings:

  • About half of the children who die from abuse or neglect are younger than 1, with two-thirds under the age of 3.
  • About 72 percent of deaths involve neglect and maltreatment, often in families “challenged by the stresses of poverty.”
  • Children living in homes that include unrelated adults are more likely to die from inflicted injuries than children living with two biological parents.
  • A prior report to Child Protective Services (CPS), no matter how the report was eventually resolved, provided the strongest predictor of a child’s risk for death before age 5, according to an analysis of California cases. The same study showed children with previous CPS reports had an almost six times greater risk of fatal injuries.
  • Despite the importance of the CPS connection to potentially fatal injuries, caseworkers only follow up on 60 percent of the reports they receive.

photo Beth Rankin via Flickr


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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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