Iowa’s Department of Human Services today (Thursday) is unveiling the federal report on the state’s child protection system. Agency spokesman Roger Munns says the state doesn’t meet all the new federal standards, but no state does. Of the first 38 states with completed evaluations, none are in compliance, and of states around Iowa, none have passed as many of the Safety and Permanency standards as we have, while in some administrative areas we’re not as good. The federal report’s very similar to Iowa’s own self-assessment done last spring, and notes strong and weak points in the child-protection system. Iowa was cited as being good at returning children to homes after they were removed for safety reasons, and if they can’t return, the state’s also very good at placing them into adoptive homes. One place the state has lower ratings than some is in the number of “repeat customers” for its child-protection programs. It’s the rate at which children go back into the system after being reunited with their family, and what he calls that “bounce-back” rate is twice what it’ll take to meet federal standards. He says to be in “substantial” compliance, a state would have to be in the top 25th percentile in all the federal measures used to rank programs, which is why none of the states measure up yet. Munns says the state’s already writing up a program-improvement plan, and the clock is now ticking on a deadline to bring Iowa into compliance with more of the federal guidelines. The penalty could be 600-thousand dollars in federal funding.
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