Iowa Code section 235A.15 provides that confidentiality of child abuse information shall be maintained, except as specifically authorized. Under Iowa law, child abuse information includes any or all of the following data maintained by DHS in a manual or automated data storage system and individually identified:
Note: Iowa Code section 232.71B, subsection 2, directs that DHS shall not reveal the identity of the reporter of child abuse in the written notification to parents or otherwise. The department shall withhold the name of the person who made the report of suspected child abuse. Only the court may allow the release of that person’s name.
Iowa Code (232.71B, subsection 9) allows for DHS to disclose that an individual is listed on the child abuse registry, the dependent adult abuse registry, or is required to register for the sexual offender registry when it is necessary for the protection of a child. The disclosure can only be made to persons who are subjects of a child abuse assessment.
Iowa law (IC 235A.15) limits access to child abuse information to specific individuals and entities depending on placement of the Child Abuse Registry. All subjects of the report and their attorneys have access to:
A copy of the entire Child Protective Services Assessment Summary is automatically provided to subjects, including but not limited to the custodial and noncustodial parents.
If a person with access to the Child Protective Services Assessment Summary as a result of the current assessment does not have access to all information listed from previous summaries, the inaccessible information is deleted before providing the summary to that person.
Note: The safety assessment, safety plan, and family risk assessment are considered assessment data, and their dissemination by law is more restrictive.
A person who is the subject of a child abuse report may also receive a copy of the Child Protective Services Assessment Summary for that report by submitting a request to the Department. Subjects may use either the Request for Child Abuse Information or the Notice of Child Abuse Assessment to make this request.
Mandatory reporters may request a founded report using either form. They will receive a Notice of Child Abuse Assessment when the assessment report is completed as the reporter of the abuse. Mandatory reporters may also request founded reports when they are providing care or treatment to a child victim, their families or the person responsible for the abuse.
All other requesters must use the Request for Child Abuse Information to request a copy of the assessment report.
A subject (child, parent, guardian or legal custodian, alleged perpetrator) who feels there is incorrect or erroneous information contained in the Child Protective Services Assessment Summary, or who disagrees with its conclusions, may request a correction of the report.
The subject must submit a written request within 90 days from the date on the Notice of Child Abuse Assessment. The appeal can be a letter of explanation or completion of an Appeal and Request for Hearing Form. The form can be completed online at: https://dhs.iowa.gov/appeals/appeal-a-dhs-decision, or mailed to:
Department of Human Services
1305 E Walnut St, 5th Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0114
An administrative hearing and or a prehearing is then scheduled. At the evidentiary hearing, the matter will be heard before an administrative law judge. The administrative law judge may also uphold, modify, or overturn the finding.
A requester who is not satisfied with the decision of the administrative law judge may appeal the matter to the district court.
Another function of the Child Abuse Registry is approval of the dissemination of child abuse information to persons authorized to receive this information. Iowa Code section 235A.17 indicates that an authorized recipient of child abuse information shall not re-disseminate the information to anyone else.
Access to child abuse information is authorized for:
Access to child abuse information is also authorized to persons involved in an assessment of child abuse (such as a health practitioner or mental health professional, a law enforcement officer, or a multidisciplinary team).
Access to certain child abuse information is authorized to individuals, agencies, or facilities providing care to a child named in a report that includes:
Access to child abuse information is also authorized under some circumstances related to judicial and administrative proceedings, such as:
Access to certain child abuse information is also authorized to others under certain circumstances, including:
According to Iowa Code section 235A.20:
Any aggrieved person may institute a civil action for damages under chapter 669 or 670 or to restrain the dissemination of child abuse information in violation of this chapter, and any person, agency or other recipient proven to have disseminated or to have requested and received child abuse information in violation of this chapter, or any employee of the department who knowingly destroys assessment data except in accordance with rule as established by the department for retention of child abuse information under section 235A.18 shall be liable for actual damages and exemplary damages for each violation and shall be liable for court costs, expenses, and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the party bringing the action.
Also, according to Iowa Code section 235A.21, the following people are guilty of a serious misdemeanor under the Iowa criminal code: