The state ombudsman says the State of Iowa should maintain a single call center for reports of abuse in order to prevent embarrassments like the situation in Atalissa where mentally disabled men were living without heat in an old schoolhouse. A report earlier this week revealed the men were malnourished, too.
After the death of a Spirit Lake toddler nine years ago, State Ombudsman William Angrick recommended that the Department of Human Services set up a centralized call-in system for child abuse reports, but it’s never been established. "We saw that as a major issue with regard to the failings of the system back in 2000 with Shelby Duis," Angrick says, "and I think that there is some analogous lesson to be learned in what has happened recently."
Angrick says a centralized call center could handle all abuse reports, those involving children as well as dependent adults like the men who lived at that bunkhouse in Atalissa. "I remain firm in my belief that a single point of contact for all child welfare and now dependent adult abuse complaints would be of paramount importance toward reducing the risk of reoccurring tragedies in our state," Angrick says.
Nine years ago, the Department of Human Services had 99 different call centers where Iowans could report child abuse. That was reduced to eight and D.H.S. spokesman Roger Munns says state response to child abuse complaints is far more consistent and professional as a result.