Home Visitation or Federal Home Invasion???

Health Care Reform now means home visitation for young families and expectant parents. There is a portion of the health care reform bill in the House of Representatives, HB3200, which calls for the government to send federal agents to people's homes to teach them how to raise their children. This article from TownHall.com details some concerns, as does this report by the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke on Sec. 440 of H.R.3200: America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.

Proponents would say this is just meant to help low-income parents. But the wording in some areas is vague, and that raises concerns about government intrusion on parental rights. This morning I did an interview with CBN’s Heather Sells covering this important aspect of HB 3200, and particularly Sec. 440 of the 1200 page bill.

My concerns are threefold:
  1. First and foremost, parental rights are inalienable, and fundamentally protected by the U.S Constitution, yet this bill takes away those rights. The framers of our constitution understood that parental rights are granted from God rather than from the state, understanding these rights as inalienable. That notion is held throughout federal case law. In Meyer v. Nebraska (1923) and Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), both affirmed in a more recent case, Troxel v. Granville (2000), the Supreme Court of the United States declared these rights unapologetically, clarifying that “parents have the right to direct the upbringing of their children.” Provisions in sec. 440 not only deny this fundamental right with government mandates, but expressly prohibit judicial review of this home visitation, effectively denying parents’ rights. Moreover, this mandated home visitation both discriminates and profiles by targeting two classes: impoverished families, and “child maltreatment communities.” Social science research has revealed repeatedly that there is no negative correlation between family poverty and child rearing; in fact it reveals just the opposite, that poor families invest more in the character of their children. And what exactly is a “child maltreatment community?” Could this target church folks, people of faith, or parents who dare to discipline their children who may use spanking or time out as a last resort form of loving discipline? The provisions in Sec, 440 are so vague as to prohibit all forms of child discipline, and in no manner do they deem parental rights as constitutionally protected or as inalienable.

  2. Secondly, the home visitation provisions are essentially federal dictated values. Universal federal standards leave no room for faith or individual values, but rather dictate federal desires by agents commissioned by a parenting “Secretary” or czar, who is given very free reign over America’s families (the bill states clearly that its provisions control “as the Secretary may deem appropriate.” It is apparent this bill and other provisions of this health care proposal are recycled failed House bills from prior years. Indeed, these home visitation provisions look like a rewrite of the old House bill called the “Education Begins at Home Act,” which sounds so nice, but was far too liberal for Congress to consider at the time, much like the reproductive provisions in this health care proposal, which are a recycling of the failed Senate bill proposed by then Senator Obama, the “Freedom of Choice Act” or FOCA, which was also far too radical for Congress to consider at the time. HB3200 is simply inexplicit federally dictated family values hidden in health care reform.

  3. Thirdly, home visitation here is essentially home invasion. Especially sections 440 and 1904 give federal agents the authority to enter your home at any time for any reason if you have children or might be expecting some. This has strong undertones of a federal child protective service (CPS), or even federal abortion panels. I teach law students and lawyers how to handle child abuse in family law cases, and regretfully, it is an awful scenario to see any child mistreated, particularly by a parent whom he loves and should be able to trust. Every once in a while, however, a parent is wrongly accused by CPS of abuse, and that parent and family deserves a defense. My students learn that the single most important thing they can do to advise their clients is to warn them not to speak to any CPS worker without the family’s attorney present. Why is this so important? Because lawyers protect your rights. If a state or federal agent came to your door with allegations of abuse, you might think “I have nothing to hide,” and innocently let them into your home. But what you know to be innocent may look incriminating to the agent. For example, you left your belt on the bed after work, but the agent simply sees a belt out and recently used. He or she notes that and the fact that your 6 year old has a bruise on his leg (which you know came from the sliding board on the playground yesterday) but the agent converges these two observations into a quick conclusion of child abuse. And the more you try to defend yourself the deeper dug becomes the hole of self-incrimination. Whenever an agent comes into your home, that is family intrusion – and this bill is just more evidence that home visitation is essentially home invasion. 
Family strength and stability requires that American parents and expectant parents be assured that their rights as parents are inalienable and constitutionally protected as fundamental rights. They ought not have to bow to a federal agent’s values, and they ought to be free from invasion in their own homes. HB3200 is downright dangerous to families, and brings further family breakdown rather than family restoration.


  1. Prof. Kohm,

    I have to dispute what is being said here. I just read that entire section of the bill and I don't see anything about "federal agents" being given authority to enter the home. All I saw was that this was allocating funding specifically for home visitation programs that have been in place and effectively helping their communites for quite some time. The people entering the homes are well educated social workers. And the homes they are entering are of families who asked for the assistance. Please see the quote below from the very begining of section 440

    "`(a) Purpose- The purpose of this section is to improve the well-being, health, and development of children by enabling the establishment and expansion of high quality programs providing voluntary home visitation for families with young children and families expecting children.

    `(b) Grant Application- A State that desires to receive a grant under this section shall submit to the Secretary for approval, at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may require, an application for the grant that includes the following:

    `(1) DESCRIPTION OF HOME VISITATION PROGRAMS- A description of the high quality programs of home visitation for families with young children and families expecting children that will be supported by a grant made to the State under this section, the outcomes the programs are intended to achieve, and the evidence supporting the effectiveness of the programs."

    Could you please provide direct quotes from this bill that back what you are saying? If I'm overlooking something, you would definitely be opening my eyes.

    Thank you,