Statehouse Subject: Providers advocate for system focused on Iowa's kids

Cedar Rapids service providers and mental health advocates from Foundation 2, Tanager Place and Four Oaks attended a committee meeting last week at the Capitol to advocate for a comprehensive system for children’s mental health.

Other attendees included the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the University of Iowa’s Children’s Health Specialty Clinics.

“Eighteen months ago, there was a revelation that Iowa did not have a really concise mental health system for youth,” said Emily Blomme, executive director of Foundation 2. “We hodgepodge stuff together. There isn’t a connected system like there is with the system for adults.”

The Health and Human Services Committee in the Iowa House first began a work group in 2015. Then in 2017, lawmakers called for a Children’s Mental Health and Well-being Advisory Committee to create a cohesive plan. The plan would look at the severity of s child’s mental health needs and use the safest and least-restrictive treatments for as long as possible, Blomme said.

The group also discussed the need for more child psychiatrists, and the need to keep those trained in Iowa remaining in the state, Blomme said.

Rep. Art Staed, D-Cedar Rapids, also attended the meeting, according to a Facebook post.

The plan would drive statewide standards with state support and monitoring of standards of care for a children’s mental health system. Additionally, the system would call for more trauma-informed crisis response that teach providers a way to de-escalate behavior for children with complex needs.

“There should be a collaborative effort ... for all providers to have a system of how we support those kids that are struggling,” Blomme said.

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