Thanks again, everyone!
Early this morning I did a little checking into Missouri homeschooling laws, to find out when and how the school board might get involved.
From my understanding, it happens when, during a CPS investigation, it's determined that the only
concern is possible educational neglect. In this case, CPS is supposed to send a report to the local school board, and the school board is supposed to send the report immediately
to the prosecuting attorney.
So I guess if that happens, rather than someone showing up at my door, I'd be getting a subpoena to appear in court. If found guilty, I could face a fine or jail-time (but the judge could choose to suspend that), and my 8yo would have to be immediately enrolled in a public, private, or home school
(I guess this third option means we could have another chance to do it "right," if they determined I hadn't been doing it "right" up to this point).
Now, I don't think this social-worker visit actually qualifies as an "investigation," since the social worker said, upon arrival, that the report had already been downgraded from an "investigation" to an "assessment" (because they'd been able to clear me of the physical abuse charges right away -- presumably by checking with the hospital where the girls' fractures were treated so long ago).
So, by the time the worker arrived at my home, educational neglect was the only
concern. Which I guess means they didn't "have" to come to the house, they could have just passed the report on to the school district.
But maybe, after finding out the physical abuse charges were totally bogus, they thought they'd send someone in person to assess things, rather than automatically involving the prosecuting attorney? In case those charges were totally bogus, too, maybe they didn't want to jump the gun and put my family though any unnecessary hassle. If so, then kudos to them!
And, also, if this is the case, then it may be a good thing I followed my hunch (and went against what I'd previously heard), and let her come in and complete her whole assessment. Otherwise she may have had no choice but to pass it on to the prosecuting attorney.
In any case, as I've thought about it, I've started to believe it's unlikely that this was my sister's first call -- it's just the first call CPS decided to follow up on. If they hadn't come to house this time, I would have gone on bringing my girls around my family, totally unaware that people were picking us apart, gathering whatever information they could to build a case against us.
I firmly believe that God chose the perfect time to let this all come to my attention, and He chose the perfect social worker, one who would be understanding and open-minded (as she seemed to be), and who actually seemed eager to wrap things up.
Of course, I don't want to get too comfortable, or be too sure that all this is over. But the more I look into things, the more I think it's all going to be over soon.
I've been working on a letter to my mom. I'm also trying to get a hold of the one aunt and uncle who I don't believe have been the least bit involved in all this. It's hitting me really hard, realizing that our poor girls have basically no extended family (dh's only living relative is his elderly mother who lives far away).