2022 Advocacy Update #001
The 2022 legislative session is off to a busy start! In the first two weeks, we saw dozens of bills introduced that have the potential to impact the children and families of Iowa. Much of the legislation being introduced responds to Governor Reynolds’s priorities for the coming year. These include childcare access, growing the state’s workforce, and making changes to public school curriculum and funding.
Here are a few of the bills that Prevent Child Abuse Iowa is currently monitoring:
–HF 414: This bill was introduced in 2021, and is still viable. It adds child sexual abuse and sexual assault awareness and prevention to continuing education options for teachers, and as a part of K-12 human growth and development curriculum.
–HSB 509/SF 2060: This bill establishes massage therapists as mandatory reporters and allows them to count the training hours as continuing education.
–HSB 522/SSB 3016: This legislation creates an exemption to hearsay court rules that allows an adult to testify that a child, or a person with a cognitive or developmental disability, disclosed physical or sexual abuse to them.
–HSB 527: This bill expands the definition of “sexual exploitation by a school employee” to include nonpublic and charter school employees, volunteers, and others responsible for children.
–SF 2071: This legislation would require K-12 health education to include lessons on consent, boundaries, and reporting abuse or assault.
–SF 2007: Expands home visiting programs throughout the state.
–HSB 511: Increases childcare center staff ratios to 1:8 for 2 year olds (currently 1:6) and 1:10 for 3 year olds (currently 1:8).
–HSB 510: Allows in-home childcare providers who serve families receiving childcare assistance to charge the difference between the reimbursement payment and their private pay rate.
-Family First: Legislation will be introduced throughout this year to address requirements of the Family First Prevention Services Act. This federal act “enhances support services for families to help children remain at home, reduce the unnecessary use of congregate care, and build the capacity of communities to support children and families.” PCA Iowa will continue to be a voice for children and families throughout the Family First implementation process.
-Alignment: State agency officials will continue to advance the Iowa Department of Public Health and Department of Human Services alignment through law and rule changes. Bills filed by a state agency to initiate a change to state code may be found in the “Pre-Filed Bills” section of the Iowa Legislature website.
On January 11, Director Kelly Garcia presented the current state of the IDPH/DHS Alignment to the House Human Resources Committee. Director Garcia emphasized that a key intended benefit of the Alignment is enhanced access to services for vulnerable Iowans. PCA Iowa continues to advocate for a focus on prevention as the Alignment plan takes shape.
Prevent Child Abuse Iowa has established four main legislative priorities for 2022:
- Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Protecting children from abuse is the responsibility of all adults in the community. PCA Iowa advocates for adult-focused sexual abuse prevention, including mandatory educator training and reference checks for all potential hires who will work with children. We also support child-focused education that includes age-appropriate lessons on healthy relationships, boundaries, and asking for help.
- Children’s Mental Health: Mental health care protects children, strengthens, families, and prevents child maltreatment. PCA Iowa is seeking adequate, sustainable and predictable funding for the mental health system in Iowa. This includes coverage for all stages of care, from preventative screening to hospitalization, and adequate funding to create a strong network of providers and services statewide. We are also seeking increased funding for evidence-based prevention programs.
- Support for Families: The key to successful prevention efforts is ensuring that families have the resources for resilience in tough times. PCA Iowa is requesting the expansion of First Five early detection and intervention services to all 99 counties in Iowa, increasing the income threshold for childcare assistance eligibility, expanded tax credits for low- and moderate-income earners, and Medicaid coverage for mothers for 12 months postpartum.
- Support a Child Well-Being System: On the other side of every call to DHS is a network of hard-working child welfare professionals. PCA Iowa encourages the Legislature to ensure those professionals have the resources required to maintain and improve the quality of the child welfare system. This includes staff funding to increase retention and decrease caseloads, and a data system that ensures workers have access to accurate and timely data.
PCA Iowa’s full priorities for 2022 are available here.
Prevention work is important in all 99 counties in Iowa. The well-being of children and families in Iowa matters in every ZIP code and every district. You have a powerful voice to share in educating your elected leadership on what prevention work looks like in your community.
You can find your state representation here. If you have never reached out to your legislator and aren’t sure what to do, here is a great guide for getting started.
We at PCA Iowa are grateful for our statewide network of champions for children!