Mental Health Advocates Disagree on New Plan to Fund Care for Children

DES MOINES, Iowa — Mental health advocates all seem to agree on one thing: Iowa leaders don’t sufficiently fund the needs of their citizens. But they disagree on another matter: a proposal to change how federal funds make it to providers.

It is all part of Governor Kim Reynolds' mandate to establish a children's mental health system. Monday, advocates shared their views in a public hearing at the Iowa statehouse. Currently, federal block grants flow through the Department of Human Services and then to local mental health providers. But proposed changes would instead send that money to the state's 14 regional centers and then those centers would distribute it to providers.

Some of those providers say the new approach could reflect a shift in priorities and they may not get the same funding. "I fully support creating a children's mental health system," Eyerly Ball Community Mental Health Services CEO Cynthia Steidl Bishop, "what I don't support is taking money from one mental health system to fund another mental health system."

However, some other advocates disagree. They think the changes could mean centers that focus on children's needs will get better funded. YSS CEO Andrew Allen said, "I'm frustrated that often times the pre-requisite to get funding for kids is to serve adults. It's backwards."

Tuesday, a house subcommittee is scheduled to review the proposal.

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