2024 Bills

HB 93: Requiring DCFS to Obtain a Warrant

To track the status of this bill, find it on our Legislation Tracker. Click here to contact the sponsor of the bill to share your thoughts, or click here to email your Senator and Representative about it.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it aligns with our principles and should therefore be passed into law.

In October 2022, ProPublica published an article drawing attention to a pernicious problem: the frequency with which agents of child welfare services agencies do not obtain a warrant before demanding entry to homes to search them.

As the article, explains, the homes of nearly 3.5 million children are searched by these agencies each year, based on available records and documentation—and without a warrant. And only in about five percent of these cases do inspectors even find any evidence of abuse.

There is no social worker exception to the Constitution’s requirement for judicial oversight and a warrant before agents of the government may enter a person’s home without their informed consent. To that end, the law must be made more explicit so there is no room for doubt that a warrant is required in these cases.

To that end, Representative Christine Watkins is sponsoring House Bill 93, which “requires a child welfare caseworker to obtain a warrant before entering a private premises” if the purpose of entering the property is to seek evidence for an investigation to potentially remove a child from the home. Watkins chairs the Child Welfare Legislative Oversight Panel and thus has an inside look into how these investigations are conducted.

Importantly, the bill also requires case workers to have a body camera or other video recording of child removals in order to create more transparency and document these encounters. 

Innocent families should not fear a warrantless bureaucracy with the power to destroy their family. This bill makes sure that social workers are explicitly required to adhere to constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.