Contact your legislator today and ask them to oppose SNAP and Medicaid asset tests that strain families and put kids at risk.

Today at the Statehouse, Iowans packed the Supreme Court Chamber for a public hearing on SF 494. This bill would impose serious barriers to accessing assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid.

Fifty-four speakers, including Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, were approved in advance to deliver comments to the Committee. The vast majority of these speakers (80%) opposed the bill. The hearing ended abruptly, before 22 community members and human services professionals in opposition were allowed to weigh in.

Below is the full text of the statement that PCA Iowa prepared for the committee.

The argument for asset tests always hinges on the cost savings to the taxpayer. I’d like to share with you a different social cost today.

It’s estimated that every child abuse investigation comes with a $936,000 cost to society across the lifespan of that child. This is true whether the report is substantiated or not. Simply being the subject of a child welfare case impacts a child’s health and productivity for a lifetime.

In 2021, there were nearly 39,000 child maltreatment investigations in Iowa. One year of child welfare involvement, in one state, comes with a $37 billion future cost to society – setting aside the incalculable human cost.

What does this have to do with public benefits? Household financial hardship puts kids at risk. When families experience financial strain, they are 3 times more likely to be investigated for neglect, and 4x more likely to be investigated for physical abuse.

To be clear, this does not mean that poverty is child abuse. The weight of financial stress overloads families and makes it difficult to be the supportive, responsive parent we all want to be. If you don’t have the medication you need, or enough to eat, it’s even harder.

We have 20 years of evidence showing that when states increase access to public assistance like SNAP and Medicaid, they see immediate, measurable, dramatic reductions in child abuse reports, investigations, findings, and foster care. 

Because these results are so undeniable, 33 other states have taken measures to make it easier to access these programs. This bill does the opposite – it puts children at risk by making it harder for families to meet their basic needs.

Prevention saves money and improves lives. Meeting the basic material needs of the family is child abuse prevention.  
We ask you to support Iowa kids and families by not advancing this legislation.

-Kylie Spies, Prevent Child Abuse Iowa

Policies that strengthen family financial security can go a long way toward reducing childhood adversity and strengthening families. We’re asking you, our partner in prevention, to reach out to your legislators and ask them to support healthy childhoods by opposing asset tests for SNAP and Medicaid.