DES MOINES, Iowa — The limited access placed on Iowa’s child abuse registry is raising questions on how to better protect your child from potential further abuse.
On Tuesday, Channel 13 revealed some unknown information about the state’s registry, how Iowans end up on it and how few people have access to the list which is made up of nearly 50,000 alleged offenders.
The Department of Human Services investigates allegations and determines who should be placed on the registry. Since the process is not criminal, offenders are not given the right to an attorney.
Iowa Legal Aid says that is reason why the registry’s information is kept away from most of the public. “We can’t depend on the Department of Human Services procedures and assessments to be the only manner in which we protect children in the state,” says Alex Kornya and assistant litigation director at Iowa Legal Aid.
The public has the right to contact lawmakers directly to recommend altering who has access to the registry. Parents and guardians can also file for a sex abuse civil protective order; paperwork can be found at the clerk of court office. The law allows for a judge to implement a protection order before the suspect is arrested. For those who have access to the registry such as a daycare provider, they are not allowed to share their findings with anyone else or they could face jail time. The only other way for someone to gain access to information off of the registry is if an alleged offender shares the information freely .
Dozens of Iowans commented on the WHO – HD Facebook page how the registry has impact their lives. One woman claims she is on the registry but never abused her children and says it’s preventing her from getting a job. Others are coming to the Department of Human Services defense, applauding them for rightfully removing children from abusive homes.
According to the Department of Human Services roughly 3,000 Iowans were added to the child abuse registry in 2018. Close to 50,000 people are on the list.