The director of the Iowa Department of Human Services says state lawmakers should look at some options to modify the Child Abuse Registry and the length of time people are kept on the list. The issue came up after a Supreme Court ruling this summer that a mother should not have been placed on the registry for failing to provide critical care or proper supervision to her child.
D.H.S. Director Charlie Krogmeier says the ruling shows the need for the legislature to clarify the reasons for putting someone on the registry. Krogmeier says they should discuss if too many people are being put on the list for “lack of supervision” or what some people would say is “poor parenting” when there’s no actual harm to the child.
“That’s a legitimate, I think a legitimate policy discussion to have,some people may have differences of opinion, but that’s something for the legislature possibly to address.” The D-H-S requires that employers check the list for some hires at nursing homes or childcare centers. Krogmeier says one option is to look at creating a new category of abuse specifically addressing the problem of drug-impaired caretakers.
Krogmeier says right now if a child is born with illegal substances in their system — frequently that’s marijuana — the mother is put on the registry. The mother of the child is then on the registry for 10 years. Krogmeier says lawmakers might consider changing that requirement.
“If there’s no harm to the child, should she be on the registry for 10 years, or should it be considered a lesser offense of some kind and be for a shorter period of time?,” Krogmeier says. Krogmeier says the legislature could consider giving people who committed less serious abuse, and never faced criminal charges, the right to petition to have their names removed sooner.
Krogmeier says the department doesn’t have any specific recommendations, but he’d like to get people thinking about the possible changes. There are now about 53,000 people on the registry.