child safety

Photo by Tim Schoon / University of Iowa

The first injuries and house fires caused by fireworks, recently made legal in Iowa, are on the books.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with researchers, injury prevention specialists, and medical professionals about avoiding injury and death when dealing with fireworks and other summer time hazards.

The show starts with a conversation with University of Iowa hand surgeon, Dr. Andrei Odobescu, about the many cases of hands and fingers severed by fireworks mishaps that he’s treated.

Drake Law School

Longtime child protection and family law expert Jerry Foxhoven will become the new head of Iowa’s Department of Human Services.

In the past year, two high profile deaths of adopted Iowa teenaged girls have raised questions about DHS’s leadership and policies. Both girls, who were not related and adopted by different families, were extremely malnourished when they died. 

Flickr / jess2284

Iowa ranks fifth nationally in overall child wellbeing in this year’s Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book. But there's still room for improvement.

As a senior associate and fiscal director for the Des Moines-based Child and Family Policy Center, Mike Crawford works with the Casey Foundation on its annual report. He says that while Iowa compares very well to other states, when Iowa is compared to itself the picture is less optimistic.

chuck palmer
Office of the Governor

Iowa Department of Human Services Director Charles (Chuck) Palmer announced Wednesday he will retire June 16.

His retirement comes as the House and Senate Government Oversight Committees prepare to investigate the department. DHS and its handling of child abuse complaints has been drawing increased scrutiny after two teen girls died. They were adopted out of the state foster care system and were severely malnourished.

John Pemble/IPR

A Democratic state senator says the head of Iowa’s Department of Human Services is lying about his lack of availability to attend an informal hearing, in order to cover up the “failure” and “incompetence” of DHS from investigating circumstances that lead to the death of a West Des Moines teen.

Sen. Matt McCoy of  Des Moines and other Democrats say Director Chuck Palmer is hiding that fact that staffing cuts prevented reports of child abuse and neglect from being properly investigated, and a result, 16-year-old Natalie Finn died of starvation back in October.

A group of mostly Democratic state lawmakers met with the head of Iowa’s Division of Adult, Child and Family Services Monday, and asked if a lack of social workers contributed to the starvation death of a West Des Moines teen in October. 

"The social workers are telling us that we should be protecting kids, we’re not because we’re over worked. 'Our staff load is too high. We’ve doubled our overtime in the last year,'" says State Senator Matt McCoy of Polk County. "Are we leaving vulnerable children out to fend for themselves when we don’t have adequate staffing?"

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

Wednesday is the first day of the Iowa Supreme Court's 2015-2016 session. The high court will hear five cases, including one questioning when someone should be given the Miranda Warning, which is the right to remain silent when in police custody and the right to legal counsel. 

Zyriah Schlitter was found guilty in 2012 of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in the death of his 17-month-old daughter Kamryn. During his trial, Schlitter made statements that conflicted with a taped interview conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. 

Photo Courtesy of Noreen Gosch

Noreen Gosch has been searching for justice for her missing son Johnny for more than 30 years. A new documentary about her battle to find her son makes its theatrical premier in Iowa next week.

Michael Galinsky, one of three filmmakers who worked on the film Who Took Johnny, says it was both a heartbreaking and compelling project.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, schools are changing their intruder response procedure from a stay put and hide method, to a fight or flight response. Today on River to River, we talk with violent incident trainers and educators who are changing the way our schools and our children prepare for the worst case scenario, and how these changes are empowering teachers and students in order to keep them safe.

In the wake of the terrible discovery of the bodies of two missing Iowa cousins, new questions are arising about child safety. Host Ben Kieffer talks with Nancy McBride from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about making your child feel safe. Then, he delves into bystander psychology with Iowa State University's Craig Anderson to find out why we might or might not intervene to prevent a tragedy.

AP Photo/FBI

The story of two missing Evansdale girls has captured the state's and the nation's attention. Host Ben Kieffer talks with the Black Haw County Sheriff's Department to get an update on the case. Then the National Safety Director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children talks about what parents and the public can do to help with the case and how we can use the Evansdale case as an opportunity to talk with our children about staying safe.