Our History

Prevent Child Abuse Iowa began as a grassroots effort in 1975 when advocates from health care, law enforcement, social services, public policy and other disciplines came together to raise awareness of child abuse in Iowa. Back then, many people weren’t aware of the issues regarding child safety in their communities.

Fast forward to today—PCA Iowa and its partners have made huge strides in creating safe, nurturing environments for Iowa’s most vulnerable populations. Keep reading to see a few of the successes from PCA Iowa’s history:


Begins as a grassroots effort called the State Technical Assistance and Training Team on Child Abuse and Neglect, focused on training professionals to recognize and report child abuse.


The first Child Abuse Prevention Councils are formed in Iowa when PCA Iowa staff member Marti Anderson drives to 34 Iowa communities meeting with interested groups. Today councils in almost 80 counties lead prevention efforts by providing awareness, education, and family support programs that strengthen their communities against child abuse.


Develops the Iowa Child Abuse Prevention Program (ICAPP),which funds family education and support services offered by community councils. Today ICAPP supports 56 prevention projects in 56 counties.


Supports development of the first home-visiting program in Iowa. Home visiting services are evidence-based programs that offer support to parents of infants and young children by teaching about good parenting practices, safe environments, and connecting parents to services.


Advocates the Iowa Legislature to expand mandatory reporter requirements to include reporting all suspected cases of sexual abuse of children under age 12 regardless of the perpetrator. Previously, the law applied only to caregivers.


Promotes reforms in how the state handles abuse cases including increased funding for prevention following the death of two-year-old Shelby Duis.


Begins managing the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Program (CBCAP) which funds community-based initiatives that support families and ultimately reduces child abuse. (This program was merged with ICAPP in 2018.)


Identifies training and education materials focused on how to handle crying newborns to prevent shaken baby syndrome with the help of several partners. As a result, the video “The Period of PURPLE Crying” is now shown to new parents in over 80% of Iowa hospitals.


Begins work with the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home-Visiting Program (MIECHV) program by providing professional development opportunities for family support workers at the annual Child Abuse Prevention and Family Support Conference. PCA Iowa continues to advocate for funding for MIECHV into the present.


Leads Iowa’s first-ever task force on child sexual abuse prevention in the wake of the Sandusky child sexual abuse case. Recommendations lead PCA Iowa begin delivering the Stewards of Children program and develop online resources for child sexual abuse prevention, reporting, and treatment.


The Central Iowa ACEs 360 Steering Committee highlights the adverse childhood experiences study, which explains the effects of childhood abuse and household dysfunction on later life. In response, PCA Iowa and a group of partners developed Connections Matter.


Begins an initiative to provide greater support and resources to fathers in partnership with the Iowa DHS and the National Fatherhood Initiative. The pilot project trains 35 facilitators to deliver “24/7 Dads,” which helps fathers provide safe and nurturing environments for their children by building awareness, knowledge and skills.


Develops Connections Matter, a trauma-informed response to ACEs. The effort stresses the importance of caring relationships to improve the prospects of children, youth, and adults who face the risk of or suffer trauma.


Launches the Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life in Your Work (PFF) training in Iowa. The approach increases family strengths, enhances child development and reduces child abuse and neglect.


Begins grant management for Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (CAPP). The program provides schools, churches, businesses, youth, and their families medically accurate, age appropriate comprehensive programming for youth and their families on sexual health and responsible decision making.


Successfully advocates for Mandatory Reporter Reform. Governor Reynolds signs a bill to create a streamlined, comprehensive framework for mandatory reporter training that will effectively train more than 400,000 Iowans that are mandatory reporters to recognize the signs of neglect, sexual abuse, and physical abuse, then promptly report suspicions to agencies for swift response and intervention.


As PCA Iowa continues to support safe communities for children, we know there is still much to be done. That’s why we will always be a leader in prevention in Iowa and advocate for happy, safe childhoods that lead to a better future for Iowa