Under Iowa law, for a person to be accused of being a perpetrator of child abuse must be a person responsible for the care of a child. A person responsible for the care of a child is defined in Iowa Code 232.68 as follows:
a. Parent, guardian, or foster parent.
b. A relative or any other person with whom the child resides and who assumes care or supervision of the child, without reference to the length of time or continuity of such residence.
c. An employee or agent of any public or private facility providing care for a child, including an institution, hospital, health care facility, group home, mental health center, residential treatment center, shelter care facility, detention center, or child care facility.
d. Any person providing care for a child, but with whom the child does not reside, without reference to the duration of the care.
A person who assumes responsibility for the care or supervision of the child may assume such responsibility through verbal or written agreement, or implicitly through the willing assumption of the care-taking role.
The final subsection, (d), is essentially a catch-all that makes almost any person into a “caretaker” under Iowa law and thereby subject to investigation and placement upon the central child abuse registry by Iowa DHS.
Iowa DHS is well known for being overzealous in its investigations, and the result is often that parents and other child caregivers are incorrectly found to have abused a child. It is therefore in everyone’s best interest to refrain from speaking to DHS alone, and to instead work closely with an attorney to address the situation.