New Changes Possible for DHS

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Jerry Foxhoven has been on the job as director of the Department of Human Services for less than three months, and so far has been met with one controversy after another.

The new director is pushing for changes he believes will help prevent children like Natalie Finn and Sabrina Ray from dying under DHS’s watch.

Foxhoven and Senator Matt McCoy, who is advocating for changes as well, will appear on this week's edition of Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press.

"Make sure that anyone who has an adoption subsidy takes the child to the doctor at least once a year. We're looking at other possibilities, but at least that much on a minimum,” Foxhoven said.

Senator McCoy agrees. He would also like DHS to resume control of home studies, which determine whether a family is suitable to adopt in the first place.

“Also in sourcing, what we are currently paying another agency to do and having the department do that and using the funds that we would have paid the outsource agency for," Senator McCoy said.

Right now, DHS pays Lutheran Services of Iowa and Kid Net to conduct home studies, but bringing home assessments back to DHS will create more work for social workers who already have a full plate.

“Most of them are working mandatory overtime just to do the basic things. One hundred fifty-six of them had overtime," Senator McCoy said.

The department needs to hire more staff, but with a budget shortfall, the state doesn't have the money right now. In the meantime, McCoy and Foxhoven are awaiting the results of an independent study to determine what changes can be made without additional funding.

More information should be available after the next legislative session.