Terminating parental rights on the rise

Experts say drug use is partly to blame.


MASON CITY, IOWA (KIMT) – According to experts, cases involving terminating the parents’ right to their children are on the rise.

Last week, 16 cases made it to the Iowa Court of appeals, but that doesn’t include another 10 to 15 cases that fell short.

Those who deal with these types of cases say once you lose your rights you can’t get them back, but the system does give folks all of the opportunity they need.

“Once the Department of Human Services gets involved and determines you are not capable of being the legal guardian of your children, you must go through a process to get them back,” says Richard Piscopo Jr. with Yunek Law Firm.

Piscopo says over the last decade a shift in substance abuse has caused a larger number of cases.

“The amount of drugs on the streets that are being used by young people, and eventually young adults, are still using drugs in particular methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin,” he says.

“100% of the time as of today where I am the attorney for the child, illegal substances were the reason that the child was removed,” says David Grooters, Attorney at Pappajohn Shriver Eide-Nielsen.

About 66% of the parents who try to get their rights back are successful, but state funding for resources such as DHS and other addiction support entities is making the process more difficult.

“Shrinking budgets like we’ve had means that there are less resources from the state dedicated to the DHS budget. Simply put, there’s not enough workers to cover everything that needs to be done,” says Grooters.