DES MOINES — A state board for a children’s mental health system has been appointed and is in the process of developing rules to ensure access to mental health services to Iowa’s youngest residents, a Department of Human Services official said during a public meeting of the Iowa Council on Human Services Wednesday.
But the work is going to take time.
“The entire world does not change overnight,” said Rick Shults, division administrator of mental health and disability services for DHS. “It’s not a light switch, it’s a dimmer. The lights will come up slowly. It’s going to take time to develop.”
Shults updated the council members on the efforts of the Children’s Behavioral Health System State Board in Des Moines, the entity tasked with the implementation of the Children’s Mental Health System.
Shults said the board also will work with stakeholders on putting the system into place.
Each member of the board — which includes lawmakers, mental and behavioral health providers and law enforcement, among others — brings a different perspective, Shults said. For example, an official from the Iowa Department of Workforce Development who sits on the board can offer insight on how to increase the provider workforce.
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However, the effort to ensure services are available and meet standards would be up to the Mental Health and Disability Services regions. Those are the 14 geographic bodies across the state tasked with monitoring services in their region.
Shults said the regions will be responsible for covering the cost of services for children whose family income is at or below 500 percent of the federal poverty level and are uninsured or underinsured.
Iowa’s Medicaid program also has set aside $423,110 in funding for the first year and $1.3 million for the second year of the program. The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimated the new system would cost Iowans nearly $3.7 million in fiscal 2020.
About a year and a half ago, an executive order from Gov. Kim Reynolds kick started an effort by an appointed board to “develop a strategic plan with specific recommendations to implement a children’s mental health system.”
State passed a proposal to establish a system to ensure access to an array of children’s mental health services. Reynolds signed the legislation into law this past May.