Bill Description: Senate Bill 1232 would require Child Protective Services to notify, in writing, parents or caregivers of their rights if they are under investigation.
NOTE: The Senate amendments to Senate Bill 1232 have further negated the value of the bill. The rating stays the same, but the analysis has been updated.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
Senate Bill 1232 would create Section 16-1648, Idaho Code, titled "Notification of Rights," to say, "When the department, in accordance with this chapter, commences an investigation after having received information that a child may be abused, neglected, or abandoned and in the course of such investigation contacts, directly and in person, the parents, guardians, or any persons having legal custody of the child, then the department shall notify such parents, guardians, or persons that they have the right to:
Refuse to answer questions;
Consult with an attorney and have an attorney present during an investigation;Obtain an attorney at their own expense, consult with such attorney, and have such attorney present during an investigation; provided, however, that the department is not authorized to appoint or obtain an attorney for such parents, guardians, or persons;
Refuse entry to their home or other real property; and
Refuse the questioning of any minor children in their home or on their property, unless there is an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction authorizing a particular entry or particular questioning or examination."
The bill further says the notification "shall be made in writing at the time of or within seventy-two (72) hours after the department makes the first contact directly and in person with the parents, guardians, or other persons having legal custody of the child."
The amended version of the bill adds a provision requiring that the notification "state that if the safety of the child cannot be determined, the department may request assistance from a law enforcement agency or seek a court order."
It is of the utmost importance that government respects parental rights and that parents are fully informed about the scope of their rights. This bill would require CPS to notify parents of their rights (eventually), which some may not realize they have.
The bill takes a small step toward increasing government respect for parental rights, but it could be improved in several ways, most notably by including an enforcement mechanism to hold CPS accountable. Instead, the bill explicitly says, "Failure by the department to provide the notification required by this section in a specific investigation shall not affect the department's ability to conduct such investigation or to carry out the department's duties as provided in this chapter." This permissive standard toward the department gives it no meaningful incentive to follow the law.
Additionally, it is troubling that the department has up to 72 hours to provide the notice in writing and no other duty to inform parents of their rights. It would be better to also require CPS to verbally inform parents of their rights at the outset of any official contact, similar to the Miranda warning provided by law enforcement.
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