232.71 Duties of the department upon receipt of report.

1. If a report is determined to constitute a child abuse allegation, the department of human services shall promptly commence an appropriate investigation. The primary purpose of this investigation shall be the protection of the child named in the report. The department, within five working days of commencing the investigation, shall provide written notification of the investigation to the child's parents. However, if the department shows the court to the court's satisfaction that notification is likely to endanger the child or other persons, the court shall orally direct the department to withhold notification. Within one working day of issuing an oral directive, the court shall issue a written order restraining the notification. The department shall not reveal in the written notification to the parents or otherwise the identity of the reporter of child abuse during an investigation to a subject of a child abuse report listed in section 235A.15, subsection 2, paragraph "a". If a report is determined not to constitute a child abuse allegation, but a criminal act harming a child is alleged, the department shall immediately refer the matter to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

2. The investigation shall include:

a. Identification of the nature, extent and cause of the injuries, if any, to the child named in the report.

b. The identification of the person or persons responsible therefor.

c. The name, age and condition of other children in the same home as the child named in the report.

d. An evaluation of the home environment. If protective concerns are identified, the department shall evaluate the child named in the report and any other children in the same home as the parents or other persons responsible for their care.

e. An interview of the person alleged to have committed the child abuse, if the person's identity and location are known, to afford the person the opportunity to address the allegations of the child abuse report. The interview shall be conducted, or an opportunity for an interview shall be provided, prior to a determination of child abuse being made. The court may waive the requirement of the interview for good cause.

3. The investigation may, with the consent of the parent or guardian, include a visit to the home of the child named in the report and an interview or observation of the child may be conducted. If permission to enter the home to interview or observe the child is refused, the juvenile court or district court upon a showing of probable cause may authorize the person making the investigation to enter the home and interview or observe the child. The department may utilize a multidisciplinary team in investigations of child abuse.

4. Based on an investigation of alleged child abuse by an employee of a facility providing care to a child, the department shall notify the licensing authority for the facility, the governing body of the facility, and the administrator in charge of the facility of any of the following:

a. A violation of facility policy noted in the investigation.

b. An instance in which facility policy or lack of facility policy may have contributed to the alleged child abuse.

c. An instance in which general practice in the facility appears to differ from the facility's written policy.

The licensing authority, the governing body, and the administrator in charge of the facility shall take any lawful action which may be necessary or advisable to protect children residing in the facility.

5. a. The department of human services may request information from any person believed to have knowledge of a child abuse case. The county attorney, any law enforcement or social services agency in the state, and any mandatory reporter, whether or not the reporter made the specific child abuse report, shall cooperate and assist in the investigation upon the request of the department of human services. The county attorney and appropriate law enforcement agencies shall also take any other lawful action which may be necessary or advisable for the protection of the child.

b. If the department refers a child to a physician for a physical examination, the department shall contact the physician concerning the examination within twenty-four hours of making the referral. If the physician who performs the examination upon referral by the department reasonably believes the child has been abused, the physician shall report to the department within twenty-four hours of performing the examination.

6. The investigation may include a visit to a facility providing care to the child named in the report or to any public or private school subject to the authority of the department of education where the child named in the report is located. The administrator of a facility, or a public or private school shall cooperate with the investigator by providing confidential access to the child named in the report for the purpose of interviewing the child, and shall allow the investigator confidential access to other children for the purpose of conducting interviews in order to obtain relevant information. The investigator may observe a child named in a report in accordance with the provisions of section 232.68, subsection 3, paragraph "b". A witness shall be present during an observation of a child. Any child age ten years of age or older can terminate contact with the investigator by stating or indicating the child's wish to discontinue the contact. The immunity granted by section 232.73 applies to acts or omissions in good faith of such administrators and their facilities or school districts for cooperating in an investigation and allowing confidential access to a child. The department may utilize a multidisciplinary team to conduct investigations of child abuse involving employees or agents of a facility providing care for a child.

7. The department, upon completion of its investigation, shall make a preliminary report of its investigation containing the information required by subsection 2. A copy of this report shall be transmitted to juvenile court within four regular working days after the department initially receives the abuse report unless the juvenile court grants an extension of time for good cause shown. If the preliminary report is not a complete report, a complete report shall be filed within ten working days of the receipt of the abuse report, unless the juvenile court grants an extension of time for good cause shown. If required under section 232.71D, the report of the investigation shall be placed in the central registry. The department shall notify a subject of the report of the result of the investigation, of the subject's right to correct the report data and disposition data pursuant to section 235A.19, and of the procedures to correct the data. The juvenile court shall notify the department of any action it takes with respect to a suspected case of child abuse.

8. The department shall also transmit a copy of the report of its investigation to the county attorney. The county attorney shall notify the department office which transmitted the report to the county attorney of any actions or contemplated actions with respect to an alleged case of child abuse so that the department office is kept up-to-date and fully informed concerning the handling of the case. If the report was placed in the central registry in accordance with section 232.71D, the department office shall notify the registry of any actions or contemplated actions by the county attorney concerning the report.

9. Based on the investigation conducted pursuant to this section, the department shall offer to the family of any child believed to be the victim of abuse such services as are available and appear appropriate for either the child, the family, or both, if it is explained that the department has no legal authority to compel the family to accept the services.

10. If, upon completion of the investigation, the department of human services determines that the best interests of the child require juvenile court action, the department shall take the appropriate action to initiate such action under this chapter. The county attorney shall assist the county department of human services as provided under section 232.90, subsection 2.

11. The department of human services shall assist the juvenile court or district court during all stages of court proceedings involving a suspected child abuse case in accordance with the purposes of this chapter.

12. The department of human services shall provide for or arrange for and monitor services for abused children and their families on a voluntary basis or under a final or intermediate order of the juvenile court. The department shall adopt rules defining services which the local planning groups authorized to develop plans may recommend.

13. In every case involving child abuse which results in a child protective judicial proceeding, whether or not the proceeding arises under this chapter, a guardian ad litem shall be appointed by the court to represent the child in the proceedings. Before a guardian ad litem is appointed pursuant to this section, the court shall require the person responsible for the care of the child to complete under oath a detailed financial statement. If, on the basis of that financial statement, the court deems that the person responsible for the care of the child is able to bear the cost of the guardian ad litem, the court shall so order. In cases where the person responsible for the care of the child is unable to bear the cost of the guardian ad litem, the expense shall be paid out of the county treasury.

14. If a fourth report is received from the same person who made three earlier unfounded reports which identified the same child as the abused child and the same person responsible for the child as the alleged abuser, the department may determine that the report is again unfounded due to the report's spurious or frivolous nature and may in its discretion terminate its investigation.

15. The department may request criminal history data from the department of public safety on any person believed to be responsible for an injury to a child which, if confirmed, would constitute child abuse. The department shall establish procedures for determining when a criminal history records check under this subsection is necessary.

16. In each county or multicounty area in which more than fifty child abuse reports are made per year, the department shall establish a multidisciplinary team, as defined in section 235A.13, subsection 8. Upon the department's request, a multidisciplinary team shall assist the department in the assessment, diagnosis, and disposition of a child abuse report.

Section History: Early form

[C66, 71, 73, 75, 77, § 235A.5; C79, 81, § 232.71; 82 Acts, ch 1209, § 13]

Section History: Recent form

83 Acts, ch 96, § 79, 157, 159, 160; 83 Acts, ch 123, § 90, 209; 84 Acts, ch 1207, § 3; 84 Acts, ch 1279, § 7, 8; 85 Acts, ch 173, §6--;9; 87 Acts, ch 153, § 5; 88 Acts, ch 1252, § 1; 89 Acts, ch 230, § 6--;13; 89 Acts, ch 283, § 22; 92 Acts, ch 1143, § 1; 92 Acts, ch 1229, § 4; 94 Acts, ch 1082, §1; 94 Acts, ch 1130, §4, 5, 7; 95 Acts, ch 147, § 4; 97 Acts, ch 176, §3

Internal References

Referred to in § 232.68, 232.71A, 232.71D, 232.72, 232.73, 232.77, 232.78, 235A.15, 235A.19, 331.424, 331.653


Section will be repealed and new sections 232.71B and 232.71C will become effective July 1, 1998; see 97 Acts, ch 35, §6, 7, 24, 25

Return To Home index

© 1998 Cornell College and League of Women Voters of Iowa

Comments about this site or page? webmaster@legis.iowa.gov.
Please remember that the person listed above does not vote on bills. Direct all comments concerning legislation to State Legislators.

Last update: Fri Jun 5 16:07:06 CDT 1998