With the passage of the new children’s mental health system in Iowa, people look forward to new service options for kids. Throughout the session, we heard that we have services just not consistently across the state and not for all Iowans. So where are these services?

In Cedar Rapids, I worked for Four Oaks Inc for several years and in different capacities, as a therapist and later a therapeutic foster parent. Services like those and others have been Iowa for decades. Yet, people struggle to access them when needed.


Annual Service Plan Updates

Each mental health region in Iowa submits an annual service and budget plan to the Department of Human Services by April 1 each year. The reports can be found on the website.

As we discussed in a previous post, the Governor signed a new law May 1 laying the groundwork for a system in Iowa. Until now, there were no core services for children in the Iowa Code. However, some regions had been providing children’s services and were allowed to continue.

What Services Are Available?

The rest of this article will outline in which regions services for kids can be found today.

  1. Central Iowa Community Services: Residential services for children only
  2. County Rural Offices of Social Services: Mental Health First Aid in the Knoxville and Decatur County schools.
  3. County Social Services: Health Home Coordination including care management
  4. Eastern Iowa MHDS region: Inpatient treatment for children
  5. Heart of Iowa Region: Children’s wrap around and prevention strategies
  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: None noted, yet partner with child providers of services including health home providers
  9. Rolling Hills Community Services Region: None noted
  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
  13. Southern Hills Regional Mental Health: None noted
  14. Southwest Iowa MHDS Region: None noted

You will see that what is reported for children varied region to region. And many regions did not have any services reported. One major impact of the children’s mental health legislation is data collection.

For the first time, the state asked regions to report what services are being provided and to how many people. This, although sounds simple, is a key part of getting the system funded for the long term.

Also, the new children’s system will provide crisis services. This is a huge victory for parents giving them a front door to go through when they need help.

Discussion Question:

What types of services would you like to see regions provide across Iowa?