Child Protective Services aims to ensure the children in Iowa are safe and families have the supports in place to keep their children safely at home when possible.
We understand that children don't just need families, children need their families. The goal when working with families is a families first philosophy which is a commitment to strengthening and preserving connections. Research shows that positive connections create positive outcomes and we want to make sure youth have a positive connection with at least one caring adult they can call on their worst days.
Child Protective Services are primarily initiated through the Iowa Child Abuse Reporting phone line (intake) where they are reviewed to see if the case meets abuse and neglect criteria. Accepted abuse and neglect reports are assessed to understand what caused the report to come in and decide if the report meets criteria, does not, or if other supports can be put in place for the family. If a child is not able to stay with their parents or legal guardian, we work to connect them with kin or fictive kin prior to placing them in a foster home. The programs used to support families as they meet their goals are called Family Centered Services (FCS).
This work also involves a team of people who help develop policies to make sure the work is constantly changing to keep up with the needs of the people we serve.
Family First Prevention Services Act, simply referred to as 'Family First,' is federal legislation which will restructure how the federal government spends money on child welfare to improve outcomes for children. It will prevent the need for removal through evidence-based family preservation services.
If removal is necessary, placement will be prioritized in this order:
Relative or fictive kin
Licensed Foster Family
Congregate care (for treatment only)
Key components of Family First include foster care prevention services such as mental health, substance abuse treatment services, in-home, parent skill-based programs that include parent education, and individual and family counseling. It also includes kinship navigator programs designed to support relatives and fictive kin when the child cannot be safely maintained in the home.
There are limitations on federal financial participation for placements that are not in foster family homes. Family First will be designed to discourage use of congregate care settings. A child who has been clinically assessed using an evidence-based and validated tool approved by HHS and determined to have specific short-term and long-term mental and behavioral health goals that cannot be met in a family or family-like setting may receive services in a Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTP). The setting provides the least restrictive environment and most appropriate level of care.
The Safe & Together™ Model is an internationally recognized suite of tools and interventions designed to help child welfare professionals become domestic violence-informed. This child-centered model gets its name from the concept that children are best served when we can work toward keeping them safe and together with the non-offending parent (the adult domestic violence survivor). The Model provides a framework for partnering with domestic violence survivors and intervening with perpetrators of domestic violence to enhance the safety and well-being of children.
The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began implementing the Safe & Together Model statewide in 2015 through a set of trainings offered to HHS child protective staff, providers, and partners. As a part of this implementation, Connect And Protect (CAP) teams were formed to help staff and providers apply the Model to their work. CAP teams include HHS child protective supervisors and social workers, Family Centered Services (FCS) supervisors and social workers, domestic violence advocates and parent partners. Each team serves one of the five service areas for Child Protective Services in HHS. These teams have 10-15 members who are specifically trained in the Safe & Together Model and provide coaching to other staff and partners with case consultation and information sharing. Child Protective Services continues to practice domestic violence-informed work by using the Safe & Together Model in the new worker trainings and by supporting the Connect And Protect teams.
For more information about the Safe and Together Model go to www.safeandtogetherinstitute.com.
The Safe Haven Act is a law that allows parents - or another person who has the parent's authorization - to leave an infant up to 90 days old at a hospital, health care facility, a fire station, through a newborn safety device, or to an Adoption Service Provider without fear of prosecution for abandonment. A parent may also contact 911 and relinquish physical custody of an infant up to 90 days old to a first responder of the 911 call. More than 60 children have been declared safe havens since the Iowa law was enacted in 2002. All states have Safe Haven laws, although provisions differ.
Community Partnerships for Protecting Children (CPPC) is a community-based framework for child protection. Partnerships work to prevent child abuse, neglect, re-abuse, safely decrease the number of out-of-home placements, and promote timely reunification when children are placed in foster care.
Visit the Community Partnerships for Protecting Children page to learn more.
SafeCare is a home-delivered, behavioral parent training program that targets risk factors associated with child physical abuse and neglect. It is designated for families with children 0-5 years old and addresses three areas of concern related to child neglect and abuse: Parent-Child/Infant Interaction, Home Safety, and Child Health.
This report summarizes data from Year 2 (FY 22-23) of this 5-year evaluation. We can draw the following conclusions:
There is a strong and robust SafeCare workforce in Iowa.
Fidelity to the SafeCare model is very high.
SafeCare completion rates were either 39% or 54% depending on the metric. In addition, 71% of families completed at least one SafeCare module, and may gain some benefit, even if not completing the entire program.
Behavior change metrics show excellent skill acquisition. Each of the behavior change metrics computed demonstrated large and statistically significant changes in the direction expected, indicating caregivers are able to demonstrate the skills taught during SafeCare.
Families reported satisfaction with SafeCare modules is high for each module. All ratings were well above 4 on a 5-point scale.
Information for youth who are or were previously in foster care, parents of children in foster care, foster parents and those looking for information on foster care and adoption in Iowa.
The webpage has the following information categories:
Adoption Investigators (Certified)
Child Placing Agencies
Group Foster Care Facilities
Accessing Adoption Records
Transitioning Into Adulthood
Treatment Outcome Package
IOWA CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES PLAN (CFSP)
Congress requires states to submit to the federal Children’s Bureau, an office of the Administration for Children & Families, a child welfare five year strategic plan - the Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP). The CFSP describes Iowa’s mission, vision, goals, objectives, and activities to strengthen our child welfare system to promote the outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being for the children and families served. Iowa submits an Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR) detailing annual progress towards the goals and objectives described in the CFSP as well as activities planned for the next federal fiscal year.
If you have questions or comments regarding Iowa's Child and Family Service Plan (CFSP) or Iowa's Child and Family Services Review (CFSR), including the Program Improvement Plan (PIP), please contact Erica Wenzl at email@example.com or call 515-281-8977.
The federal government conducts reviews to determine if states meet federal child welfare requirements. The Child and Family Service Review (CFSR) is a partnership between the federal and state governments that examines the child welfare system in the state and identifies the strengths and areas needing improvement.
Congress requires the federal government to conduct reviews of states to determine if they meet federal child welfare requirements. The Child and Family Service Review (CFSR), is a partnership between the federal and state governments. The CFSR examines the child welfare system in the state and identifies the strengths and opportunities for improvement. The ultimate goal of the review is to improve child welfare systems to achieve the following positive outcomes for children and families:
Children are, first and foremost, protected from abuse and neglect.
Children are maintained safely in their homes whenever possible and appropriate.
Children have permanency and stability in their living situations.
The continuity of family relationships and connections is preserved for families.
Family and Child Well-Being
Families have enhanced capacity to provide for their children's needs.
Children receive appropriate services to meet their educational needs.
Children receive adequate services to meet their physical and mental health needs.
In 2018, Iowa completed its state-led review for the CFSR Round Three. As part of the review, Iowa completed its CFSR Statewide Assessment (see below). During the CFSR Onsite Review period, April 1, 2018 through September 30, 2018, Iowa conducted 65 case reviews utilizing the federal CFSR Onsite Review Instrument with federal government participation in oversight of the reviews. Iowa also conducted state level stakeholder interviews led by a joint federal-state review team in July 2018 to determine performance for items related to the seven CFSR systemic factors. In February 2019, Iowa received its CFSR round three results (see Iowa 2019 CFSR Final Report below).
If you have questions or comments regarding Iowa's Child and Family Services Review (CFSR), including the Program Improvement Plan (PIP), please contact Erica Wenzl at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-281-8977
The Digital Dashboard shows how Iowa is doing in relation to the Federal Child Welfare Benchmarks.
In order to support the work done be child welfare, other organizations are contracted to help provide services to those we serve.
Information for specific contracts is located on our Child Protective Services Contracts webpage.
Iowa law requires licensing of agencies that provide child-placing services (adoption, foster care, and supervised apartment living), children's residential facilities and group foster care facilities. The goal is to provide appropriate protection for children who are separated from their families.
This law (Iowa Code 232.171, Iowa Administrative Code 441.143) provides for the protection and welfare of juveniles and the public. All committed delinquents and juvenile probationers placed into and out of Iowa or who have escaped or absconded across state lines must meet the requirements of this compact and be referred through the ICJ office. Runaways to and from other states must also be referred to the Interstate Compact.
In Iowa, the Interstate Compact on Juveniles (ICJ) is housed in the Department of Health and Human Services. All fifty states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Virgin Islands are participants in this compact.
Decategorization of child welfare and juvenile justice funding is an initiative intended to establish systems of delivering human services based upon client needs to replace systems based upon a multitude of categorical funding programs and funding sources, each with different service definitions and eligibility requirements. It is designed to redirect child welfare and juvenile justice funding to services which are more preventive, family centered, and community-based in order to reduce use of restrictive approaches that rely on institutional, out-of-home, and out-of-community care.
TARGETED REVIEW OF IOWA'S CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
In November 2022 the Department began contracted work with an independent agency, the Change and Innovation Agency (C!A), to conduct a Child Protective Assessment. The following documents resulted from the assessment.
In 2020, Evident Change partnered with the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop, customize, and implement a Structured Decision Making® (SDM) safety assessment to support decision making related to child safety in child welfare services (CWS).
TARGETED REVIEW OF IOWA'S CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
In May 2017 the Department contracted with an independent non-profit organization, the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, to conduct a targeted review of the state's Child Welfare System. The following three reports resulted from this review.
IV-B information is included in the Child and Family Service Review dropdown above.
The Child Protective Services intake unit receives reports of suspected abuse and neglect of children (under the age of 18 years) as well as reports that a child is in need of assistance from the Juvenile Court. Anyone can report their concerns.
Concerns of suspected abuse and neglect are assessed by a Child Protection Worker (CPW). In every assessment, the CPW works with the family and others familiar with the family or child to:
Ensure the safety of the child,
Better understand the concerns reported,
Identify the strengths and supports that the family has in place, and
Assist with referrals for services to meet the needs of the family.
Jan. 8 - 24/7 Centralized IntakeMarch 3 - Solution Focused Meetings (SFMs)March 18 - Adoption Selection Statewide ProcessJune 10 - Supervision of Family Interactions by Family-Centered Services (FCS) ContractorsJuly 9 - Kinship Navigator ServicesJuly 14 - Kinship Caregiver Payment ProgramJuly 23 - DHS Drug Testing Authorization SystemAug. 2 - Subsidized Guardianship ProgramSept. 30 - Changes to Youth Transition Decision-Making (YTDM) Meeting Facilitator Training and StandardsDec. 13 - Supervision of Family InteractionsDec. 17 - Changes to Reunification Practice Standards