The Iowa Supreme Court has amended a ruling officials in the Department of Human Services argued would gut the state’s Child Abuse Registry.
In July, the court ruled a Des Moines County woman was wrongly placed on the registry because her child saw the child’s father physically abuse the mother repeatedly. State officials had said she had failed to properly supervise the child. Department of Human Services spokesman Roger Munns says failure to properly supervise a child is a very serious charge and it applied to more than half of the 53,000 people on the Child Abuse Registry.
“These can involve cases of a person, for instance, who is so incapacitated by drug use or alcohol abuse that he or she is incapable of providing safety for children in their care.” Munns says.
The court has clarified its ruling, allowing the department to keep nearly all the names on its current list, but in future only the names of individuals considered at “moderate” or “high” risk to commit another act of abuse will be placed on the Child Abuse Registry. Munns says some people who are on the list today may be removed if they have filed an appeal.
“The people who are on the registry now and who have not filed a timely appeal will remain on the registry,” Munns says. “But because of the court’s ruling, the people who have filed a timely appeal and people who are being assessed from now on will be addressed in a different fashion.”
The state’s Child Abuse Registry is used as a screening tool by schools, day care centers, nursing homes and other organizations to check whether potential employees or volunteers have a history of abusing children. The woman who sued to get her name off the registry said she had trouble finding work and, as a victim of domestic abuse, she had been “revictimized” by the state.