police-lights-300x192-300x192Child welfare experts at the Iowa Department of Human Services are seeking changes in state law to better protect children whose caregivers are involved with illegal drugs.

Under a proposed bill, a wider variety of controlled substances would trigger a child abuse investigation. Jenae Harvey, with the DHS Child Welfare Bureau, says several key drugs found in homes aren’t now covered.

Harvey says, “What we’ve seen over the past two years is families where cocaine, heroin, opioids and methamphetamines are alleged, those caregivers tend to be involved with the Department of Human Services repetitively.”

The current law was designed to protect children in homes where methamphetamines were being used, sold or manufactured. Under the proposed bill, a child abuse investigation would be warranted if the drug activity occurs even when the child is not home. Harvey says the DHS has had repeated contacts with families where cocaine, heroin, opioids and meth are present.

She says, “We want to have the opportunity to do the necessary safety and risk assessments for the children and get the caregivers the substance abuse treatment they need in order to be the best parents that they can.”

Under the proposed change, the DHS would spend more time evaluating the families. A similar bill failed to win passage last year.

(Thanks to Joyce Russell, Iowa Public Radio)