Children’s Services. The Governor signed into law a statewide board tasked to create a children’s mental health system. The law required regions to assist in development of core services including crisis services. The language also specified that these services would be funded by Medicaid when possible, and by the regions for the difference.


Families continue to express concern that they cannot find services they need for children. Critics say that not enough is being done. Regions bemoan the fact that more funding was not added to the plan.

Despite the complaints and concerns, bright spots continue to shine across the state. Children’s providers like Four Oaks and Orchard place and many others work tirelessly to provide high quality services to our children.

In an earlier post, we looked at children’s services across regions. Updated service plans for 2020 indicate additional services have been added across the state. That means, access to services continues to improve.

Children’s services by region include the following:

  1. Central Iowa Community Services: Residential services for children only and planning to add children’s crisis services
  2. County Rural Offices of Social Services: Mental Health First Aid in the Knoxville and Decatur County schools.
  3. County Social Services: Working on strategic plan for children’s mental health services
  4. Eastern Iowa MHDS region: Inpatient treatment for children and strategic planning for crisis services
  5. Heart of Iowa Region: Adding two children’s system coordinators
  6. MHDS of the East Central Region: Health Home Coordination including care management
  7. Northwest Iowa Care Connections: None noted
  8. Polk County Health Services: 2020 service plan not posted at time of writing, partner with child providers of services including health home providers
  9. Rolling Hills Community Services Region: Jackson recovery has unit for persons up to age 18
  10. Sioux Rivers MHDS: Health Home coordination including care management and school-based therapy programs throughout the region
  11. South Central Behavioral Health Region: None noted
  12. Southeast Iowa Link: Outpatient therapy, Health home coordination including care management; completing service inventory in region and strategic planning
  13. Southern Hills Regional Mental Health: None noted
  14. Southwest Iowa MHDS Region: None noted

Note, at the time of submission of the current plans for regions, the children’s mental health bill had not been authorized. And, regions were not connected to the children’s system. Finally, the State did not require regions to provide services for children. But, that changed with the new law.

Even without a mandate, many regions planned and strategized how to provide these important services. And, several regions offered basic services for children in their formal plans.

What you can expect now that the law has been finalized:

  1. The annual reports at the end of the year will describe more of the services for children existing within each region.
  2. The statewide children’s mental health board will begin oversight of the strategic planning and service inventory across the regions.
  3. The service plans for FY 2021 will include children’s services in greater detail as plans roll out statewide.

If you need to find services for children:

Call the crisis hotline in your area and ask about current services. The new children’s law added children to the statewide hotline as it is built out. Another option, contact providers directly like Four Oaks and Orchard Place and ask for details to secure assistance. And, in case of an emergency, go to your local hospital! The hospital can assist you in finding the proper care you need.

Discussion Question:

Travel along the children’s mental health journey has begun. What services would you like to see developed?