DHS Public Records Policy

Many Department of Human Services records are public.
DHS maintains vast amounts of records, reports, and other information. Most of it is available to the public. Aggregate client and aggregate personnel information is public. 
Some records are confidential.
  • Many records are gathered in confidence and must be strictly protected. 
  • Individual client records are not public. 
  • De-identified client information that could lead to real persons are not public. 
  • Personnel records are not public. Dates of employment and salary records are public. 
  • The names of people who report child abuse or neglect are not public. 

Many DHS records are NOT public records, as they are case specific. If you are seeking your own child welfare records, medical records or other case-specific and otherwise confidential records, please email your request to contactdhs@dhs.state.ia.us

Public DHS records are almost always provided at no cost.
This includes: 
  • Public records on the department’s web site, https://dhs.iowa.gov
  • Public records already compiled in the way requested. 
  • Public records that require a total of up to three hours to assemble and to review to protect confidential information. 
The DHS response to requests for public records is consistent regardless of:
  • Who is asking. 
  • How the public information will be used. 
  • Whether the requestor cites state or federal open records laws. 
The DHS response to requests from the public for public records is speedy.
The agency will respond to your request within 10 business days. Some requests will take longer to process.  You will be notified if your request will take more than 10 business days to process. 
DHS will charge a fee to produce public documents when the actual cost of doing so is not incidental.
  • The fee will never exceed actual cost.
  • The actual cost of copies produced by printer or copier, with the first 30 pages provided for free. The actual cost of printed copies is $0.10 per page. 
  • DHS will estimate an administrative fee to compile records at a rate of $32/hour excluding the first three hours. The estimate will include the time to locate records, screen records, and to redact information that is not public, as well as personnel time to make copies and PDFs as needed. DHS estimates that large groups of emails, including attachments and chains, can be screened and redacted at a rate of two minutes per email or attachment. 
  • There is a fee of $60/hour for electronic data or records that require special processing to format, edit, or compile. If the data requiring special processing is maintained or administered by a third party, the requestor will pay the normal hourly rate charged by the third party to the department. 
  • The Department will estimate the total fee and will notify the requestor. 
  • If the fee is significant, the requestor is expected to pay in advance. 
  • Once payment based on the estimated fee is received, DHS will track the actual salary of personnel compiling the records. 
  • If the actual cost is less than estimated, the balance will be refunded. 
  • If the actual cost is greater than estimated, the requestor will receive the records gathered to date and will be informed of an estimate to complete the work. 

Contacting the Public Information Officer (PIO)

Please note the PIO cannot provide confidential or case-specific records or assist you with your DHS case. If you are seeking your own case records, or need assistance with your own case, send an email to contactdhs@dhs.state.ia.us and someone will reach out to you. 
For media inquiries or assistance with open records requests, contact the PIO at (515) 281-4848 or email acarfra@dhs.state.ia.us.
Updated December 2021