Determining the Best Interests of the Child - Iowa

Date: September 2023

Guiding Principles

Citation: Admin. Code § 441-202.4(234)

Placement that is consistent with the best interests and special needs of the child shall be made in the least restrictive, most family-like facility available and in close proximity to the child's home. Race, color, or national origin may not be routinely considered in placement selections.

Best Interests Factors

Citation: Admin. Code § 441-202.4(234); DHHS Employees' Man., Tit. 18, § D(1)

A foster family shall be selected based on compatibility with the child, taking into consideration the following: 

  • The extent to which interests, strengths, abilities, and needs of the foster family enable the foster family members to understand, accept, and provide for the individual needs of the child. 
  • The child's individual problems, medical needs, and plans for future care. (For example, the Department of Health and Human Services shall not place a child with asthma or other respiratory health issues in a foster home where any member of the household smokes.)
  • The capacity of the foster family to understand and accept the child's case permanency plan, the needs and attitudes of the child's parents, and the relationship of the child to the parents. 
  • The characteristics of the foster family that offer a positive experience for the child who has specific problems because of past relationships. 
  • An environment that will cause minimum disruption of the child, including few changes in placement for the child. 

In policyThe department shall consider the following factors when choosing the placement that best meets the needs of the child: 

  • The engagement of the child's family 
  • The child's need to be placed with siblings
  • The child's need for an appropriate and stable educational setting
  • The child's need for continuity with previous placements
  • The ability of the placement resource to sustain the placement 
  • The success of the placement resource in serving children with similar needs
  • The expected length of placement

Other Considerations

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 232B.2; 232.108; Admin. Code § 441-202.4(234)

The State is committed to protecting the essential Tribal relations and best interests of an Indian child by promoting practices, in accordance with the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act and other applicable law, designed to prevent the child's voluntary or involuntary out-of-home placement and, whenever such placement is necessary or ordered, by placing the child, whenever possible, in a foster home, adoptive home, or other type of custodial placement that reflects the unique values of the child's Tribal culture and is best able to assist the child in establishing, developing, and maintaining a political, cultural, and social relationship with the child's Tribe and Tribal community.

If the court orders the transfer of custody of a child and siblings to the Human Services Department or other agency for out-of-home placement, the department or other agency shall make reasonable efforts to place the child and siblings together whenever possible if such placement is in the best interests of each child.

In regulation: Efforts shall be made to place siblings together unless doing so would be detrimental to any of the children's physical, emotional, or mental well-being. Efforts to prevent separating siblings, reasons for separating siblings, and plans to maintain sibling contact shall be documented in the child's case permanency plan.