The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (Iowa HHS) is in the process of significant organizational change.

The Iowa Departments of Public Health and Human Services recently came together as one agency to strengthen coordination amongst existing services and provide more comprehensive services to all Iowans. This initiative continues with a significant focus on how we serve children and families in Iowa. This includes assessing how we do our work and building an organizational structure and system that supports the changing needs in our state.

Yesterday, Iowa HHS announced the intent to award Change & Innovation Agency (C!A) a contract to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state agency’s child welfare practices and policies and how they impact outcomes for Iowa’s children and families.

The state has also posted eight new key leadership positions to support the new Division of Family Well-being and Protection and the Division of Community Access.

Child Protective Services Assessment

This assessment will focus on key performance areas including workforce and workload, technology, organizational structure and practices, quality control and accountability. Their work will result in the development of recommendations for agency improvement. The overarching goal of this assessment is to answer the question ‘are children and families better off because of Iowa HHS intervention?’ and identify areas where we can improve in order to better serve children and families of Iowa.

New Leadership Positions Posted

As part of the Iowa HHS Alignment effort, two new divisions are being developed to better align policy and practice. The Division of Family Well-being and Protection oversees policy and practice for child protective services, child care and family services. The Division of Community Access oversees child support services, economic assistance programs and wellness and preventive health. Positions include:

  • Division Administrator of Family Well-being and Protection
  • Division Administrator of Community Access
  • Director of Child Protective Services
  • Director of Child Care
  • Director of Early Intervention and Support
  • Director of Child Support Services
  • Director of Eligibility
  • Director of Wellness and Preventive Health

The Department is also in the process of replacing our existing child welfare IT system. This is a multi-year effort that was initiated in January 2022. System functionality will include data sharing with key partners—including foster parents, legal representatives, contracted providers and health care entities. The improvements that come with this new system will reduce the amount of time social workers are spent at the computer which will give them more time to meet with the children and families we serve.

This IT project will work in tandem with the child welfare protective assessment and new leadership positions. This work is heavily informed by, and will work in tandem with, Chief Justice Christensen’s Juvenile Justice Task Force. Together, with the Judicial Branch, Iowa HHS has conducted listening sessions throughout the state to solicit feedback and input on how we serve adjudicated youth in Iowa and address systemic disparities.

“The work we’re embarking on at HHS is foundational for our new agency,” said Director Garcia. “This is exciting and long overdue. My team and I are invigorated at the significant work that lies ahead—the impact of these efforts will affect the long-term trajectory of the many families in Iowa who find themselves in need of our assistance. Ensuring we are structed and resourced to appropriately meet their needs will directly result in better outcomes and better lives for the families we serve.”