Panel: Cocaine, Heroin, or Opioids in a Home Could Trigger Child Abuse Investigations

Nov 25, 2016

A workgroup studying how to protect drug-endangered children is considering changes in state law to address caregivers involved with illegal and legal drugs.   

We want to get the parents the treatment they need

The current law was designed to protect kids in homes where methamphetamines were being used, sold, or manufactured.           

Under a proposed bill, a wider variety of controlled substances could lead to a child abuse assessment.     

Janee Harvey with the DHS Child Welfare Bureau says currently cocaine, heroin, or opioids are treated differently from meth.

Steve Lukan, Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy
Credit Joyce Russell/IPR

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

The proposed change comes from members of the Iowa Drug Endangered Children Workgroup.     The group is made up state officials, law enforcement, child welfare advocates, and legislators.

Under the proposed change, the DHS would spend more time evaluating the families.  

“We want to have the opportunity to do the necessary safety and risk assessments for the children and get the parents the treatment they need so they can be the best parents that they can,” Harvey said.

Under the proposed bill a child abuse investigation would be warranted even if the drug activity occurs when the child is not at home.

A similar bill failed to pass last year.