Child Wellbeing System - Prevent Child Abuse Iowa

Child Wellbeing System

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. A prevention-focused, data-driven, well-supported Child Welfare System protects children and supports families. 

Goal: Ensure that the Departments of Human Services and Public Health have the resources required to maintain and improve the quality of child and family services. 

The impact of child abuse and neglect is well-documented. In 2020, DHS documented over 30,000 reports of child abuse or neglect with more than 10,000 children experiencing at least one confirmed or founded case. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress on families, decreased access to family supports, and reduce child interaction with mandatory reporters. DHS reports decreased up to 50% during the height of the pandemic. 

In recent years, the state has launched independent reviews of child welfare policies and practices in response to the deaths of Sabrina Ray and Natalie Finn. The resulting reports from the Ombudsman and the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group have provided recommendations for Child Welfare System improvements. 

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

  • Focus on primary prevention efforts, to increase protective factors against child abuse and neglect.  
  • Ensure the Departments of Human Services and Public Health are able to attract, develop and retain a skilled and diverse work force with manageable caseloads, so that they can accurately assess reports of maltreatment and work with families to meet their needs. 
  • Update or replace data management systems to ensure workers have access to timely, accurate data for decision-making. 

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

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