Iowa’s Department of Human Services announced recently it’ll refine its focus on the youngest victims of child abuse and neglect — kids five and under. Spokesman Roger Munns says especially in light of a recent report on the number of kids removed from homes, some people may wonder if they could be falsely accused of abuse and lose their kids. You would hope that, if there were a false report filed even though you were taking good care of your kids, that any investigator who was sent out would explain that they had to come but would politely apologize. “You would hope that people could see right through that, and in fact, that really is the case, most of the time,” he assures. The spokesman says the trained case workers get plenty of practice sorting out genuine cases of kids at risk from the many false reports that come in. “The agency gets calls like this all the time, and many times, it’s clear that it’s a nuisance call,” says Munns. “It happens all the time,” he says, adding “we would rather that they didn’t.” But DHS gets 37-thousand calls a year about child abuse. Munns says the agency has ways of sorting out cases where there may be a problem, from the calls that come in for other reasons. Twelve thousand, about one-third of the reports, are rejected right away because they don’t meet the agency’s criteria. “Even if it was true, it wouldn’t be child abuse,” he says. Then when they send out an investigator on those other 25-thousand cases, two-third of those turn out not to be founded. Many of those, he says, turn out to be a case of someone with a personal grudge trying to cause a problem…but they don’t succeed. He says it may be that “The ex- is mad at the husband or wife,” and tries to file a frivolous complaint. Though Iowa recently was the subject of a report indicating it may take children from homes and put them into foster-care more than other states, Munns says some of that is the way agencies report such cases, as a visit home rather than a “bounce-back” to foster care because the problems aren’t solved yet. The latest report has the agency refining its guidelines to put more attention on the youngest kids, noting they are unable to stand up for themselves in genuinely troubled families.
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