This article first sets out the child welfare system's assumption that there is a child welfare exception to the Fourth Amendment and then describes the ways it is used to facilitate child maltreatment investigations. It goes on to analyze the validity of this assumption according to current Fourth Amendment doctrine including under the special needs administrative exception. (This analysis may be particularly useful to both family/children's law scholars as well as to Fourth Amendment scholars, as it examines all of the state and federal appellate cases addressing the subject, and provides a most up-to-date evaluation of the Supreme Court's special needs doctrine.) Finally, the article makes the normative argument that a child welfare exception under any guise is unreasonable because it is both unnecessary to accomplish the desired ends and causes harm to more children than it helps.
Doriane L. Coleman, Storming the Castle to Save the Children: The Ironic Costs of a Child Welfare Exception to the Fourth Amendment, 47 William and Mary Law Review 413-540 (2006)