Fostering Connections Resource Center

Maintaining Sibling Connections in Iowa

Iowa legislation enacted in 2007 promotes ongoing connections for siblings placed in foster care. The Iowa law preceded enactment of the federal provision to require reasonable efforts to place siblings together. The process for enacting the Iowa law is a model for how to give youth in foster care a voice to make needed improvements in the child welfare system.

Elevate, Is a program for young people who have been involved in the child welfare system operated by Children & Families of Iowa and funded by the Iowa Department of Human Services. Elevate members partnered with Drake University law students to develop legislation aimed at reducing the harm and loss that occurs with separation from siblings. The students researched state statutes, drafted legislation and other documents, and circulated the draft to members of the judicial and child welfare community for review. Together, the Elevate members and law students took their campaign to the State Capitol. They found a legislative sponsor, testified at hearings, and witnessed unanimous approval by both legislative chambers.

Like the federal law, the Iowa legislation requires reasonable efforts to place siblings together or, if not placed together, to provide frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction. And it goes even further than the federal law. The Iowa statute requires the child welfare agency to tell siblings about the efforts being made to keep siblings together and, if appropriate, the reasons they are not placed together. It also requires the agency to provide training and information about siblings to adoptive parents and to encourage planning for sibling contact after adoption or other permanent placement.

The Iowa Department of Human Services reports that it is working to keep siblings connected through the following activities: (1) consultation and guidelines regarding joint placement and the quality and frequency of interaction, (2) social worker training that includes participation by youth, and (3) practice bulletins for field staff and providers. Supervisors, as well as juvenile courts, monitor the efforts of frontline workers.

The Fostering Connections Resource Center gratefully acknowledges the Children's Defense Fund and ChildFocus for providing this and other summaries of state approaches related to the kinship or guardianship provisions.


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