Child Welfare Policy

Prevent Child Abuse Iowa recognizes the important role that the Child welfare system and the Department of Human Services play in the safety of Iowa’s children.

Goal: The legislature and governor ensure that the Child Welfare System and the Department of Human services have the necessary resources to ensure the safety of Iowa’s children.

A fulling functioning and well supported Child Welfare System protecting children and supporting families is key to the future of our state. Our Child Welfare System utilizes a case management approach in which frontline workers strive to connect the family with the resources they need to ensure a safe environment for the healthy development of children. This system must be focused on the prevention of abuse and neglect and needs to have the appropriate resources necessary to do so.

The impacts at the individual and community level of child abuse and neglect are well documented. In 2019, DHS documented over 50,000 reports of child abuse or neglect with nearly 10,000 individual children experiencing at least one founded case. Recent Ombudsman Investigative Reports and a Targeted Child Welfare Review conducted by the Child Welfare Policy and Practice group, on the cases of Sabrina Ray and Natalie Finn, have provided recommendations for improvements to our Child Welfare System.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has created increased risk for child abuse and neglect by increasing stressors on families, decreasing access to important resources for family support and interaction with mandatory reporters. During this time of increased risk and isolation, DHS has reported drops in abuse and neglect reports as low 50% of pre-pandemic rates.

To ensure that Iowa’s children and families are supported the legislature and governor must provide necessary resources to:

  • Focus on increasing the protective factors of child abuse and neglect through primary prevention efforts.
  • Ensure the Department of Human Service has the ability to attract, develop and retain a skilled and diverse work force with manageable caseloads to accurately assess reports of maltreatment and work with families to ensure meeting of their individual needs.
  • Make updates to the data management systems at the Department of Human services to ensure that all staff focused on the safety and wellbeing of children and families have timely access to data to make well informed decisions.

We encourage you to ask your legislator to support the creation of policies that prioritize prevention and increase protective factors for Iowa children.

Find Your Legislator