In Many States, Punishment for Child Abuse Precedes Charges, Let Alone Conviction

One state’s child welfare agency removes children from their parents’ homes, due to perceived abandonment, abuse or neglect, at a pace equal to two times the national average.

A whopping fifty thousand of that state’s three million residents are listed in a child abuse registry … although not convicted of – or even charged with – any crime.

These residents make the list because a single child welfare investigator (with a supervisor’s rubber stamp) concludes that it is more likely than not, however slightly, that they abused a child.

As a result, the listed residents face loss of employment and loss of child custody.

They do have a right of appeal … to the same child welfare agency.

The state under consideration? Midwestern Iowa.

But forty-five other states’ laws and procedures are not all that different from Iowa’s in regard to “qualifying” for listing in such child abuse registries.

The federal government reports that many states list residents on abuse registries with appallingly little evidence. Many abusers aren’t even informed that they have been placed on the list. Those who press appeals, often aren’t ever advised of the outcome.

Iowa’s Supreme Court reviewed the state’s system recently and reportedly found it lacking in constitutional safeguards. Now the state legislature is working on reforms.

But what about the other forty-five states doing things similarly?

Read more in this Washington [DC] Times editorial: Abusing due process.