Since 1975 Prevent Child Abuse Iowa has served its mission of leading child abuse prevention efforts in Iowa. In the beginning, the organization focused on educating professionals about child abuse. At the time, the prevalence of child abuse was not widely recognized or addressed.
Over 40 years, PCA Iowa, with the support of many partners, has made huge strides in creating safe, nurturing environments for Iowa’s children. As we celebrate our anniversary, here’s a timeline of our achievements:
Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act (CAPTA)
CAPTA provides a core definition of child abuse and neglect to guide individual state law. Additionally, the law provides federal funding for child abuse prevention initiatives, including the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Program, which PCA Iowa manages today.
PCA Iowa begins as a grassroots effort with representatives from health care, law enforcement, social services, policy and others coming together in an effort to bring awareness to the issue of child abuse in Iowa. At this time, many people did not even recognize that child abuse was happening in their communities. The small grassroots effort, originally called the State Technical Assistance and Training Team on Child Abuse and Neglect, focused on training professionals to recognize and report child abuse.
Prevention Councils Form
PCA Iowa staff member Marti Anderson drives to 34 Iowa communities, meeting with interested groups to form the first Child Abuse Prevention Councils in Iowa. Today councils in almost 80 counties lead prevention efforts by providing awareness, education, and family support programs that strengthen their communities against child abuse.
PCA Iowa’s First State Child Abuse Prevention Conference
The conference that provides training to professionals in the human services field begins in this year. Growing to around 100 participants in 1984, this annual conference is expected to serve 600 family support and early childhood professionals in 2015.
Iowa Child Abuse Prevention Program (ICAPP) Started
PCA Iowa is selected to manage the newly created statewide ICAPP. ICAPP funds family education and support services offered by community councils. ICAPP currently supports 105 prevention projects in 78 counties.
April Proclaimed Child Abuse Prevention Month
President Reagan declares April "National Child Abuse Prevention Month.” Today, pinwheels are used as the symbol of this month, representing the happy, safe, and carefree childhood every child deserves. Learn how you can engage in Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Birth Certificate Fees
Iowa passes legislation to extend funding for child abuse prevention programming by charging new parents a fee to secure registration of a certificate of birth. PCA Iowa now utilizes these funds to support child abuse prevention programs statewide.
Crisis Care Programs
CAPTA provides a federal grant to start crisis care programs. Iowa starts programs providing 24/7 access to crisis child care in six counties. These programs still continue today.
Home Visiting Program Comes to Iowa
Prevent Child Abuse Iowa supports development of the first home visiting program in Iowa. Home visiting services are evidence-based programs that offer support to parents of infants and young children by teaching about good parenting practices, safe environments, and services they can connect with.
Mandatory Reporter Law Extended
The Iowa Legislature expands mandatory reporter requirements to include reporting all suspected cases of sexual abuse of children under age 12 regardless of the perpetrator. Previously, the law applied only to caregivers. PCA Iowa advocated for this change.
Shelby Duis Death Leads to Reforms
The death of two-year-old Shelby Duis, after people in her community alerted the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) to potential abuse multiple times, leads to outrage and a call for greater protection for children. Following her death, the Iowa Legislature expands protections for children, enacts reforms in how the state handles abuse cases, and increases funding for prevention. PCA Iowa actively advocates for these changes.
Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Program (CBCAP) Founded
The Iowa Department of Human Services chooses PCA Iowa to manage CBCAP. CBCAP funds community-based initiatives that support families and ultimately reduce child abuse. PCA Iowa now supports 34 CBCAP programs.
Check Off Child Abuse
After a two-year PCA Iowa advocacy campaign the Iowa House and Senate pass legislation to create Check Off Child Abuse, establishing child abuse prevention as one of four causes taxpayers can donate to on the state income tax return form. Now in its 6th year, the Check Off has raised nearly $400,000 for family support services.
Period of Purple Crying Developed to Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome
After being approached about helping parents deal with the stress of raising a baby, PCA Iowa, with the help of several other invested partners, identifies training and education materials to provide hospitals and parents. The resource focuses on how to handle crying newborns to prevent shaken baby syndrome. At the same time, the Iowa Legislature requires creation of a statewide program to prevent shaking and slamming of very young children. The result, the video The Period of PURPLE Crying, is now shown in many Iowa hospitals to new parents.
Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) Comes to Iowa
Congress creates a program with funding to expand home visiting services. This leads to the creation of MIECHV, which currently serves 18 counties in Iowa. PCA Iowa works with the program to advance professional development opportunities for family support workers and advocates for continued funding of the program.
Sandusky Child Sexual Abuse Case Leads to Reforms
The Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal story draws nationwide attention, exposing system-wide failures to protect children. In the wake of the disclosures, PCA Iowa leads Iowa’s first-ever state task force on child sexual abuse prevention. The task force recommends expanding efforts to teach adults how to protect children, which leads PCA Iowa to train facilitators to deliver the Stewards of Children program. PCA Iowa also develops an online directory providing resources on child sexual abuse prevention, reporting and treatment.
The ACE Study Brought to Iowa
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, which explains the effects of childhood abuse and household dysfunction on later life, is highlighted by the Central Iowa ACEs 360 Steering Committee. PCA Iowa currently supportsConnections Matter, an initiative designed to engage community members in building caring connections to improve well-being.
In partnership with the Iowa Department of Human Services and the National Fatherhood Initiative, PCA Iowa begins a new initiative to provide greater support and resources to fathers. Under PCA Iowa’s leadership, Wapello County is piloting a community mobilization project around how to engage fathers. The initiative also trains 35 facilitators to deliver 24/7 Dads, which helps fathers provide safe and nurturing environments for their children by building awareness, knowledge, and skills.