2022 Advocacy Update #003
We’re almost halfway there! The 7th week of the 2022 legislative session is drawing to a close. Now that the deadline to introduce most bills has passed, the Legislature shifts its focus to amending, debating, and passing legislation. Read on to learn where child abuse prevention stands after the first funnel!
These companion bills are working through both chambers and will likely pass into law this year
Legal changes that would allow a witness to testify in court that a child or person with a developmental disability disclosed abuse to them (SF 2329/HF 2221). Testifying about abuse can be difficult and traumatic for children, especially when the person on trial is a family member. When a child reports abuse to a trusted adult, they are counting on that person for help and protection. We support trauma-informed practices that place the responsibility for protecting children where it belongs—on adults.
More bills that are still viable
Adding charter and nonpublic school employees to the definition of sexual exploitation by a school employee (HF 2385). As Iowa leadership works to expand school choice for families, we support measures that increase accountability and safety in all settings where children learn and grow.
Bills intended to improve child and family mental health and well-being by establishing mental health provider forgivable loans (SF 2195, HF 2137), adding evidence-based treatments for youth and families involved with the justice system (HF 2310), and Family First child welfare and juvenile court reforms (SF 2174/HF 2390, SF 2171/HF 2252).
Bills that will not advance this year
Sexual abuse prevention education in schools, including training for teachers (HF 414) and age-appropriate human growth and development standards for teaching consent, body parts, and boundaries (SF 2071/HF 2098, HF 2183). These bills may be done this year, but our mission remains unchanged. We will continue working to empower educators with the knowledge and skills to recognize and stop child sexual abuse.
Family supports such as expanded home visiting (SF 2007), enhanced Medicaid coverage for pregnancy and postpartum (SF 2005, SF 2006), and school district options for establishing early childhood programs (SF 2074). However, some bills that would restrict access to family supports have also failed to advance. These include imposing asset tests for nutrition benefits (HSB 508) and cumbersome verification processes for public assistance (HSB 507). Health care, education, and nutrition are fundamental to child well-being. We support efforts to make child and family resources as accessible as possible.
In public policy, as in so many other areas of our lives and work, we are prone to focusing our attention on the most urgent problem of the moment. PCA Iowa believes that as we address our state’s immediate challenges, it is also essential to strengthen statewide primary prevention efforts. Building strong, resilient, connected families and communities with more protective factors saves money, buffers families against stress, and leads to safer and happier childhoods.
We encourage you join us in advocating for these primary prevention policies to advance our shared vision of a world free from child abuse:
- Learn more about PCA Iowa’s 2022 prevention priorities.
- Reach out to your local (city, county, school board) or statewide leadership and ask them to support child abuse prevention efforts.
- Read about best practices in working with your legislator.
- Learn advocacy skills for connecting with your elected officials.
Thank you for being a part of PCA Iowa’s advocacy network! We are grateful for your commitment to building happy childhoods.