The news about the Turpins, a California couple accused of holding their 13 children captive in filthy living conditions, has highlighted home-schooling regulations across the country, especially when it comes to welfare checks.
Currently, there are 87,462 children in the Sunshine State being homeschooled, according to the Florida Department of Education. Like California, Florida doesn't require a home visit by a certified education requirement. There also isn't a requirement that anyone from the school system ever see the child, but the parent must keep in contact annually with the state.
As of right now, to be in compliance, parents may choose from five options including having a certified teacher evaluate each child's schoolwork portfolio; submitting state or national testing results for the child; having the child evaluated by a licensed psychologist; or getting a plan approved by the county's superintendent.
Homeschooling on the Rise in Florida
According to the most recent state education statistics, more than 5,000 children have been added to the home education program in Florida from the school year 2015-16 school year to 2016-17. Enrollment has been steadily increasing since 2006, but saw its first dip two years ago. After a one percent decrease in 2016, five percent more students were added in 2017.
Corissa Ringer, who homeschools two of her four children between the ages of 5 and 9, said her family made the decision after seeing the success of other families using home education.
"I loved the results, I loved that they had flexibility in their schedule and their parents had control over what they were learning," said Ringer. "And I loved that they could influence their kids and their world view."
However, she said isolation doesn't have to be a bi-product of schooling at home.
"It's so important, this is the number one recommendation I would give to anybody who's thinking about homeschooling, is to be part of the community with other families," she said. "The moms can help each other and give advice, and the kids can have social interaction and opportunities to be kids and have friends."
In Duval County 5,375 families and 980 families in St. Johns opt to educate their children outside of a traditional school and those numbers keep increasing.
Ringer believes the pressures of standardized testing, demanding homework, and abundance of resources are driving more parents to consider making the switch.
"In a homeschool environment, you can get your work done during the day and have your nights and weekends back to do family things. A lot of people just wanted their family time back," she said.
Ringer also said co-op education is becoming more popular. Two of her children go to a private school a few days a week in a traditional classroom setting, and then are taught at home the remaining days.
As to whether a law change mandating annual at-home visits would burden home schooling families, she said she doesn't consider it intrusive if it helps insure all children are safe.
"I don't think that would be a big imposition, other people may disagree but I think that would be perfectly fine," Ringer said.