Iowa DHS Investigation: Better Protection For Iowa Kids?

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Iowa Deptartment of Human Services

This is a guest post by Tanya Myers. The original title of her post is Better Protection For Iowa Children or Lip Service? Her expressed views are her own.

The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) is now under formal investigation after repeated attempts, by lawmakers for DHS to answer questions regarding the process by which Iowa’s child welfare system is being run.

It is imperative that we do not see another high-profile case such as the Natalie Finn and Mason Wyckoff cases. These cases cannot be ignored and neither can Iowa’s process in which they are being noticed.

The Iowa House Oversight Committee chaired by Representative Bobby Kauffmann, (R), announced Thursday that a formal investigation into the Iowa Department of Human Services will take place. This cannot be any more imperative. Senator Matt McCoy (D) has been asking for an investigation into Iowa’s Department of Human Services since January. The lawmakers have not given up regardless of Governor Terry Branstad's stance believing this to be politicizing.

Politicians are not the only ones seeking oversight into DHS. “There have been several cases of negligence at the fault of CPS and DHS Director Charles Palmer. Several advocacy groups have been asking for this oversight for many years” said Nicholas Dreeszen, President of Families United Action Network (FUAN), whose mission statement is, “To preserve and protect children and families by repairing and rebuilding current structures and organizations to create a solid foundation for Iowa’s families and for future generations”.

Other groups in Iowa are also asking for investigations into the current system to protect Iowa’s children and their families. Among those are Iowa Family Preservation Project (IFPP), Family Civil Liberties Union (FCLU), Family Advocates, Inc., OpExposeCPS-Iowa, and many more.

Proper procedures are obviously not being followed if we are seeing horrific child neglect and death cases continuing to be an issue after there have been reports of abuse or neglect to the department for investigation in said cases resulting in Iowa having twice the national average of children hurt in foster care. These groups and advocates appear to agree with lawmaker’s when it comes to asking for oversight and investigations into the State’s Department of Human Services and its director Charles Palmer.

The legislative panel has publicly stated their concerns for Iowa’s children and families. They do not want to see any more unnecessary cases of neglect by DHS affect another family. Surrounding Thursday’s oversight meeting is an unsurmountable number of questions the legislators have been asking repetitively about the way the department is handling its cases with no answers coming to the table. Senator McCoy has already asked for Charles Palmer’s resignation this month for completely incompetent and deceitful actions.

A speaker for the Department of Human Services released a statement Thursday stating they are willing to work with the legislative panel to investigate concerns via the department's investigative processes and actions. However, they have refused to work with Senator McCoy and Representative Kauffmann to date, proving the urgency behind the formal investigation seeking answers to the procedures taking place in the seemingly top secret agency. Iowa's children should be able to count on such an agency for safety when being abused or neglected, not subjected to more torture and even death.