Monroeville, PA asked in Family Law and Juvenile Law for Pennsylvania

Q: Can I deny a child protective service worker access to my home during an unannounced home visit?

Do they need a court order to enter my home? Do they need a court order to speak with myself, my spouse, or my children? Can I refuse to speak without a lawyer present? I want to know my rights as a parent if I am falsely accused of harm or neglect and I have to interact with child protective services.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Peter Christopher Lomtevas
Peter Christopher Lomtevas pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Schenectady, NY
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: The Geheime Staatspolizei, abbreviated "Gestapo," was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and in German-occupied Europe. This force was created by Hermann Göring in 1933 by combining the various political police agencies of Prussia into one organization. In today's United States, government must jump through hoops in order to enable secret police because of all the laws written into the books. Despite these laws, the United States teams with secret police who have unbelievable powers. Such an organ is the Pennsylvania Children and Youth Service, the child protective apparatus, but their overreach has been limited of late.

Imagine a case of a mother who dared to protest in front of the Philadelphia Housing Authority. An anonymous call to the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) alleged that she was homeless and that it was “unknown” whether she fed her child during this single eight-hour period while she was protesting. This was the result of the "fair probability" standard that the superior court always affirmed. There was a "fair probability" (often called word-salad) that the protestor's child was not being cared for by the mother. The Gestapo appeared at the mother's door to check, the mother rejected their advances, the Gestapo appeared before a judge, and obtained an order to search the mother's home. This is a swatting performed against mothers and children.

The mother appealed, and the superior court affirmed the trial court’s order, holding that an agency may search a parent’s home whenever it can show “a fair probability that a child is in need of services.” The mother appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which agreed to review the matter, and reversed the superior court.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the lower court’s “fair probability” analysis, holding that “nothing short of probable cause, guided by the traditional principles that govern its federal and state constitutional limitations, will suffice when a trial court makes a determination as to whether or not to authorize a home visit.” The Court rejected arguments that a lower evidentiary threshold is permissible in child welfare cases, explicitly holding that there is no “social worker” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and affirming that “the Fourth Amendment applies equally whether the government official is a police officer conducting a criminal investigation or a caseworker conducting a civil child welfare investigation.” In the Interest of Y.W.-B and N.W.-B, Minors, J-39A-2021 and J-39B-2021.

The message to this asker is that she has "rights," but in Pennsylvania, the judiciary learns from its mistakes. The judiciary will continue its "fair probability" support of Gestapo agents coming to the door, but the judiciary will use more language to give the appearance that a heightened standard for a search is in effect. The reality will be a meaningless, unproductive search of the home, but perhaps the Gestapo will find something they can use to remove the child for failure to cooperate in our new utopian, democratic social order in today's United States.

As for the asker's direct questions, we here cannot take the risk and inform the asker of exactly what rights she has, because Pennsylvania judges sitting in family courts make up their own rules and render their own findings as they want rather than how the law actually operates. Fighting this system can and will lead to a lose of one's child, and Pennsylvania does not at all care about children. Pennsylvania only cares about Pennsylvania.

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