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Iowa Statehouse Dome SquareLast week SF 454 passed the Iowa Senate with little fanfare.  In fact it passed 47-0.   If it passes the Iowa House and signed by the Governor it will create a “Children’s Health and Well-Being Workgroup.”  It seems innocuous enough because it’s just creating another workgroup.

What I’m concerned about is what legislation could come next year as a result?  It could open the door to additional future child data collection.  Here is what the workgroup will be charged with.

The department of human services, in cooperation with the departments of education and public health, is requested to facilitate a workgroup of stakeholders to study and make recommendations relating to children’s health and well-being in this state. The issues that may be considered by the workgroup include developing a strategic plan for data systems to provide an overview of health and well-being of children in this state; creating a comprehensive system of care for children that incorporates a coordinated response to adverse childhood experiences and extreme child poverty and homelessness across many disciplines including education, public health, mental health, child welfare, and child welfare systems and services; building interdepartmental awareness of adverse childhood experiences and extreme child poverty and homelessness and creating interdepartmental strategies for helping improve child health and well-being and understanding impacts on education and employment outcomes; examining child care quality and affordability; and determining how government can create community partnerships to help address issues of child well-being. (emphasis mine)

While I laud the goal of helping kids in need I can’t help being troubled by the call for “developing a strategic plan for data systems to provide an overview of health and well-being of children in this state.”

With all of the data collection that is currently taking place in schools today this seems to be the wrong direction to go.  What data do they plan to collect that would provide this overview or is this about organizing the data they already have?  How will really provide tangible help? It seems to me that those who provide the boots on the ground already know where many of the kids are (or have a good idea where they are).  I fail to see how state departments collecting additional data will be of much help.

If that is what the workgroup recommends, I admit this could be much to do about nothing and I do hope I’m wrong.

Ultimately we don’t know what the workgroup will recommend after they complete their task, but the bill, in my opinion, would have been better had the charge for developing a strategic plan for data systems been left out of it.  Perhaps the Iowa House Human Resources Committee can get answers to some of those questions or, better yet, strip that language out of the bill.

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