Iowa can do better: Tragedies of underfunding

Child abuse: Natalie Finn was a teenager who died after being starved for years by her adoptive parents. In the year before her death, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) received ten child abuse reports about the Finn children.  

After completing an exhaustive review, Iowa’s Ombudsman found a number of the problems that led to Finn’s death can be attributed to a lack of adequate state resources. Specifically, the report found there are insufficient case managers at DHS to review and investigate child abuse.  

Over the last decade, the Governor and Republican lawmakers have cut 1,058 DHS workers. That includes the elimination of at least 558 case managers who investigate child abuse claims.   

Adding to the problem, caseloads for case managers have increased by 53% and the number of child abuse claims that need to be investigated increased from 25,707 to 35,029 in just two years, a staggering 36 percent increase.  

Natalie’s death could have been prevented and it is just the latest in a series of tragedies. 

Glenwood Resource Center: Glenwood Resource Center is home to more than 200 intellectually and physically disabled people. 

Several former Glenwood Resource Center employees, including doctors and nurses, have filed a lawsuit against the state. The allegations are that sexual arousal experiments were performed on residents without their consent. This lawsuit details how former Glenwood superintendent Jerry Rea allegedly set up these experiments and conspired with others to silence and punish employees for expressing their concerns about what was being conducted at Glenwood Resource Center.

The lawsuit claims the defendants sought to transform Glenwood Resource Center from a facility focused on patient care into a research facility to further Rea’s research interests. The residents were being treated as human research subjects with no ethical research protocols. DHS was notified and allegedly ignored the pleas for help. 

Conclusion: One of the bills that is being considered would allow Iowans to voluntarily contribute to a fund to purchase safety equipment for Iowa State Troopers. If Iowa’s revenue is so depleted that we are asking for donations to fund public safety, something has gone wrong. Iowa can do better. A decade of underfunding basic services by Republican lawmakers and Governor Reynolds has devastating results. We should not adjourn this session until appropriate action – and resources – are approved. 


Quote of the week: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20 1961