Recently, the House unanimously passed House File 2507, a bill that supports Iowa’s children in foster care. This bill comes from the Department of Human Services as a way to implement the federal Family First Act.
Family First is a federal law that changes the direction of child welfare services across America. Iowa is the 11st state in the nation to receive approval for its prevention services and programs plan, and Iowa is receiving more federal money than any other state to support high quality legal representation for parents. Family First is intended to safely reduce the foster care population, place children with known and stable caregivers, and reduce the number of youth in shelter and group care settings.
Iowa has already implemented many preventative practices and the data shows significant improvement. The chart below shows the decrease in children being removed from their family over the last two years in every geographic area of the state.
Importantly, this bill requires courts to secure the least restrictive care and preferences placement with the child’s family whenever a child is removed from their parents. Too often, the child has been left out of the process and their voice is the most important in determining who will care for them. Children do best in families.
The House also unanimously passed House File 2252 which will increase the upper age of foster care from 18 to 21 to ensure these foster youth are able to have adequate supports as they transition to adulthood. The bill also requires the courts to contemplate sibling placement throughout the adoption process for foster children, as we know that it can be extremely traumatic for children that have lost their parents, to additionally lose their siblings.