Iowa Considers New Approach to Child Abuse Reports

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By Ellen Kurt

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Human Services is on the verge of taking a less-confrontational approach toward adults accused of minor acts of child neglect.

The state Legislature has approved a bill creating the new process, and it's now awaiting Gov. Terry Branstad's signature.

The new approach allows for "family assessments," in which caseworkers can work with families and let them describe their situation without fear of being placed on the state child abuse registry.

Agency spokesman Roger Munns says the change would better balance the rights of adults with the need to protect children. Cases involving sexual, physical and substance abuse will still require a traditional investigation.

Some child advocates back the change but say the state needs to ensure quick evaluations if there is any risk to a child.

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