Children’s mental health is a critical building block for future adult health and a strong economy. CAMHI4Kids advocates to fix the patchwork of services that puts children’s well-being at risk by providing adequate, predictable, and sustainable funding for the Children’s Mental Health System in Iowa.

Iowans want a funded system.updated camhi4kids pyramid

For many years, Iowans have been asking our state leaders to fix the patchwork of services that cause families to struggle to know where to turn when they need help and to access the same array of services regardless of where they live. Adequate and sustainable funding for the Children’s Mental Health System would allow families to have the right services, at the right dose, at the right time and place, which can prevent significant illness later on. A funded system includes the services featured in this pyramid.

As Iowans, if we truly value a healthy workforce to drive our economy, then our health care system should include comprehensive and accessible mental health care across the lifespan, with specific prevention and early intervention services for children.

Our kids cannot wait.

Adequate and sustainable funding for the Children’s Mental Health System would ensure Iowa remains strong as we emerge from the pandemic. Schools are providing needed stability and structure, but families need greater support after experiencing incredible stress and isolation this past year.

  • From April-October 2020, the proportion of children’s mental health-related emergency department visits among all pediatric emergency department visits increased 24% for children aged 5-11 and 31% for children aged 12-17, according to the CDC.

  • The Iowa Poison Control has noticed a major increase in 11- to 14-year-old girls attempting suicide (February 2021).

  • Many families working in the agriculture industry especially are struggling with multiple stressors over the past year that have increased mental health concerns for the entire family.

Children have unique needs.

Kids are not little adults. The first years of a child’s life are a critical opportunity for social, emotional, and cognitive development and skill-building on making decisions, interacting with others, and managing emotions—all of which can help prevent significant illness in adulthood. Exposure to significant adverse experiences, like those caused by the pandemic, can damage a child's developing brain and disrupt their healthy development. By providing services early on, we can build a strong foundation for future health and well-being. 

Iowa leaders should choose to invest in a strong economy.

Our state leaders have a choice: They can sufficiently fund the entire Children’ Mental Health System or continue to have a patchwork of services across the state. Investing in the whole system now will lead to substantial savings over time as many costly health issues are rooted in childhood. Families are more desperate for mental health services than ever before. A patchwork system will continue to increase costs for substance abuse treatment, child welfare services, and lost productivity as Iowa’s children grow up in our state and stay here.

As Iowans, if we choose to invest in a fully funded Children’s Behavioral Health System, we are choosing to invest in the things that make our economy and communities stronger now and in the future.

Advocacy Agenda

1. Ensure adequate, predictable, and sustainable funding for Iowa’s mental health system across the lifespan.

  • Ensure sustainable regional funding for mental health services across the state.

  • Establish a regular, ongoing Medicaid reimbursement rate review process. Competitive, regularly reviewed reimbursement rates ensure that Iowans have better access to essential services and address workforce shortages.

2. Improve access to behavioral health telehealth services that acknowledges the unique needs and challenges of children and families
  • Ensure commercial telehealth payment parity continues after the state’s emergency measures expire, allowing rural families and those with other access challenges to continue to receive medically appropriate telehealth services.

  • Invest in technology infrastructure, including equipment purchases, software purchases, broadband access, and equity investments like cell phone minutes or home internet costs that many families cannot access or afford for health and mental health services.

3. Expand access to policies and programs that support prevention, early identification and early intervention for children’s social-emotional development so that we can mitigate long-term, chronic, and expensive health conditions later in life.
  • Ensure that all children receive EPSDT-covered screenings and treatment.

  • Expand programs that have proven successful and cost efficient, such as the 1st Five Healthy Mental Development Initiative and System of Care.


CAMHI4Kids Partners 


  • Broadlawns Medical Center
  • Candeo
  • Central Iowa Community Services
  • Clive Behavioral Health Community
  • Health Partners Community Support
  • Advocates CROSS Region
  • Greater Des Moines Partnership
  • Mid-Iowa Health Foundation
  • Mosaic in South Central Iowa
  • Polk County Decategorization
  • Polk County Health Services
  • Polk County Medical Society
  • Primary Health Care, Inc.
  • Project IOWA
  • South Central Behavioral Health Region
  • United Way of Central Iowa
  • United Way of Story County
  • Warren County Health Services
  • Young Women's Resource Center
  • Youth Emergency Services & Shelter (YESS)
  • Youth Homes of Mid-America


  • Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque
  • Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa
  • Counseling and Family Centered Services
  • Families First Counseling Services
  • Family Resources
  • Nurturing Families Community Partnership for Protecting Children
  • Otto Schoitz Foundation
  • Southeast Iowa Children’s Mental Health Collaborative
  • Tanager Place
  • The Arc of East Central Iowa
  • United Way of Clinton County, Iowa
  • United Way of East Central Iowa
  • United Way of Muscatine
  • Van Buren County SAFE Coalition
  • Vera French Community Mental Health Center


  • Boys and Girls Home and Family Services
  • CHI Health Mercy Hospital
  • First Resources Corporation
  • Heartland Family Services
  • Midwest Christian Services
  • Northwest Iowa Care Connections
  • Plains Area Mental Health, Inc.
  • Rolling Hills Community Services Region
  • Seasons Center
  • Southern Hills Regional Mental Health
  • Southwest Iowa Mental Health & Disability Services Region
  • United Way of Siouxland
  • Wesco Industries
  • A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy (AMOS)
  • American Academy of Pediatrics - Iowa Chapter
  • Blank Children's Hospital
  • Catholic Charities
  • Child and Family Policy Center
  • Child Health Specialty Clinics
  • Children and Families of Iowa
  • ChildServe
  • Coalition for Family and Children's Services in Iowa
  • EveryStep Care and Support Services
  • Foundation 2 Crisis Services
  • Four Oaks Family and Children's Services
  • Genesis Development
  • Hillcrest Family Services
  • Iowa ACEs 360
  • Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Iowa Association of Community Providers
  • Iowa Association of Nurse Practitioners
  • Iowa Behavioral Health Association
  • Iowa Chapter of Children Advocacy Centers
  • Iowa Hospital Association
  • Iowa Mental Health Planning Council
  • Iowa Primary Care Association
  • Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association
  • Lutheran Services in Iowa
  • Mercy Children's Hospital and Clinics
  • NAMI Iowa
  • National Association of Social Workers - Iowa Chapter
  • Navigate Wellbeing
  • Orchard Place
  • Please Pass the Love
  • Prevent Child Abuse Iowa
  • REM Iowa
  • United Ways of Iowa
  • University of Iowa Adolescent Clinic
  • University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
  • YSS

For more information, please contact Erin Drinnin, co-chair of the coalition.