Special Efforts Being Made in Iowa to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

July 01, 2018- Iowa's safe haven law, which allows newborn infants to be voluntarily surrendered for foster care placement, now applies to a child as old as 30 days. Previously, the law allowed parents to avoid prosecution for giving up infants as old as two weeks.
[ Recommendation 5.3e]

Iowa's Safe Sleep Task Force focuses on reducing sleep-related deaths of infants. In the fall of 2016, the Iowa Professional Society on the Abuse of Children traveled throughout the state to conduct presentations and provide handouts on safe sleep methods to prevention groups.  Further, Iowa has started a safe sleep pilot to increase the number of infants with a safe sleep environment through a partnership with the National Cribs for Kids program in four Iowa counties with the highest SIDS death rates.  [Recommendation 7.1c]

In June 2017, DHS announced that it had retained the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, a private consulting agency based in Alabama, to review Iowa’s child welfare system. This decision followed the deaths of two teenage girls who had both been adopted from foster care and were being homeschooled. It is expected that the review will include all areas of system functioning, including inter-department communications; how workers analyze multiple abuse referrals; whether workers consider the reduced scrutiny of home-schooled children; and how foster and adoptive parents are screened, in order to identify system challenges and potential solutions. The consultant will be paid just under $40,000 on the first stage of the review, which is expected to be completed over the coming months. [Recommendations 7.2, 7.3]