ATrain Education

 

Continuing Education for Health Professionals

IA: Child Abuse, A Guide for Mandatory Reporters

Module 7

How Is Child Abuse Information Treated in Iowa?

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:

  • Report data, including information pertaining to an assessment of an allegation of child abuse in which DHS has determined the alleged abuse meets the definition of child abuse
  • Assessment data, including information pertaining to the DHS evaluation of a family.
  • Disposition data, including information pertaining to an opinion or decision as the occurrence of child abuse

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.

Protective Disclosure

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.

Disposition of Reports

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:

  • Information contained within the Child Protective Services Assessment Summary
  • Correspondence or written information that pertains to Child Protective Services Assessment Summary.

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.

Requests for Correction and Appeals

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
Appeals Section
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.

Access to Child Abuse Information

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:

  • Subjects of a report (child, parent, guardian or legal custodian, alleged perpetrator)
  • The attorney for any subject
  • An employee or agent of DHS who is responsible for assessment of the report of child abuse
  • Other DHS personnel when necessary for the performance of their official duties and functions
  • The mandatory reporter who reported the abuse
  • The county attorney
  • The juvenile court

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:

  • A facility licensing authority
  • A person or agency responsible for the care of a child victim or perpetrator
  • An administrator of a psychiatric medical institution
  • An administrator of a child foster care facility
  • An administrator of a registered or licensed childcare facility
  • The superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sightsaving School
  • The superintendent of the School for the Deaf
  • An administrator of a community mental health center
  • An administrator of an agency providing services under a county management plan
  • An administrator of a facility or program operated by the state, city or county providing direct care to children for applicant and employee record checks
  • An administrator of an agency providing Medicaid home- and community-based waiver services for applicant and employee record checks
  • An administrator of a childcare resource and referral agency under contract with DHS
  • An administrator of a hospital for applicant and employee record checks

Access to child abuse information is also authorized under some circumstances related to judicial and administrative proceedings, such as:

  • The juvenile court
  • A juvenile court officer
  • A Court appointed special advocate
  • An expert witness at any stage of an appeal hearing
  • A district court
  • A probation or parole officer
  • An adult correctional officer
  • Each board of examiners and licensing board
  • A court or agency hearing an appeal for correction of child abuse information
  • The Department of Justice for review by the prosecutor’s review committee or the commitment of sexually violent predators

Access to certain child abuse information is also authorized to others under certain circumstances, including:

  • A person conducting bona fide child abuse research
  • DHS personnel for official duties
  • A DHS employee for record checks of state operated institutions employees
  • A DHS registration or licensing employee
  • A DHS adoption worker
  • The attorney for DHS
  • A certified adoption investigator
  • A certified adoption worker
  • A child protection agency from another state for investigative, treatment or adoptive or foster care placement services
  • Foster care review boards, or to conduct a record check evaluation
  • The Board of Educational Examiners
  • A legally authorized protection and advocacy agency
  • The Iowa Board for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders
  • A licensed child placing agency for adoptive placement
  • The superintendent or designee of school district, or authorities for a nonpublic school, for employee and volunteer record checks
  • Department of Inspections and Appeals for applicants for employment

Civil and Criminal Liability

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:

  • Any person who willfully requests, obtains, or seeks to obtain child abuse information under false pretenses
  • Any person who willfully communicates or seeks to communicate child abuse information to any agency or person except in accordance with Iowa Code sections 235A.15 and 235A.17
  • Any person connected with any research authorized pursuant to Iowa Code section 235A.15 who willfully falsifies child abuse information or any records relating to child abuse information
  • Any person who knowingly, but without criminal purpose, communicates, or seeks to communicate child abuse information except in accordance with sections 235A.15 and 235A.17 shall be guilty of a simple misdemeanor.
    Instructions
  • Online
  • Study the course, take the test, register and pay, print your certificate. Done!

  • Print Option
  • Click "Print Option" to print a hard copy with mail-in instructions.

  • Take the Test