Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | MARCH 03, 2011 7:20 AM

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Child advocates need funding

The Iowa Child Advocacy Board is the governor-appointed organization that oversees the Iowa Court Appointed Special Advocate and Foster Care Review Board programs. The two programs support hundreds of volunteers across the state assisting the child-welfare system provide for the safety and welfare of abused and neglected children.

Last year alone, these volunteer Iowans donated almost $3 million of their time and travel expenses to help thousands of children having been placed in the foster care system.

Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers play a vital role in helping our most vulnerable children achieve the best outcomes possible. They are charged with advocating on behalf of abused and neglected children in the legal and social-service systems to ensure they get everything they need and deserve. The special advocates can offer more concentrated attention to their assigned child/children than Human-Services Department workers, attorneys, service providers, and judges with much larger caseloads. They are independent from the rest of the child-welfare system, and recommendations are made solely on the child’s best interest. Last year, more than 1,600 advocates represented these vulnerable children.

In December, Advocacy Board’s budget was cut by $240,077. Gov. Terry Branstad’s fiscal 2012 budget reduces the board’s funding an additional $160, 817. Cuts in funding will harm at-risk children.

Please remember that children and their well-being are not a partisan issue. Call your elected representatives and ask them to argue House Study Bill 116, which includes the funding for the Department of Inspections and Appeals and its attached units, including the Child Advocacy Board and its programs. Remember: With all the cuts in Human Services and layoffs of workers, these programs become a safety net for children in foster care and kin placements.

Anyone wanting to know more about the needs of children in foster care can contact U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, a staunch advocate for child-welfare reform.

Shirley McIntosh
Dumont, Iowa

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