Children’s mental health is a critical building block

for future adult health and a strong economy.

CAMHI4Kids advocates for providing adequate, predictable, and sustainable funding for the Children’s Mental Health System in Iowa to fix the current patchwork of services and stop putting our children's well-being at risk.

Iowans want a funded system.updated camhi4kids pyramid

For years, Iowans have been asking state leaders to fix the patchwork of services for children's mental health care. Families are struggling to get access to the same array of services regardless of where they live and many don't know where to turn when they need help. Adequate and sustainable funding for the Children’s Mental Health System would allow families to have the right services to meet their needs at the right time and at the right place, which can prevent significant illness later in life.

A funded system includes the services featured in the pyramid graphic to the right. 

If we truly value a healthy workforce to drive our economy here in Iowa, then our  health care system should include comprehensive and accessible mental health care across a persons lifespan, with specific prevention and early intervention services specifically for children.

Our kids cannot wait.

Adequate and sustainable funding for the Children’s Mental Health System would ensure Iowa remains strong as we continue to endure through the pandemic and prepare for future impact. Schools are providing needed stability and structure, but families need greater support after experiencing high levels of stress, isolation, and grief.

  • 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 are especially 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 small adults. The first years of a child’s life are a critical opportunity for social, emotional, and cognitive development. During these foundational years, children are skill-building on making decisions, interacting with others, and managing emotions—all of which can help prevent 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 stronger 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, statewide system now will lead to substantial savings over time as many costly health issues take root 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.

Download the CAMHI4KIDS 2023 Priorities (PDF)Advocacy Agenda

1. In order to continue our progress toward making Iowa a leader in children's mental health and family well-being, CAMHI4Kids asks the legislature to:

  • Enhance Medicaid funding and programs to ensure adequate appropriations for routine competitive rate reviews as determined by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Mandate state wide data collecting and public reporting in order to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of services.
  • Continue to grow and support prevention and early intervention strategies to ensure the right treatment to the right kids at the right time.
  • Develop the continuum/full array of services needed to support all children with complex behavioral health needs in their homes, schools, and communities.   


CAMHI4Kids Partners

Central Region

  • Cedar Valley United Way
  • Community Support Advocates
  • Ellipsis
  • EveryStep
  • Foundation 2 Crisis Services
  • Orchard Place
  • Please Pass the Love
  • Polk County Medical Society
  • Primary Health Care
  • Lutheran Services in Iowa
  • United Way of Central Iowa
  • United Way of East Central Iowa
  • United Way of Jasper County
  • United Way of Mahaska County
  • United Way of Story County
  • University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Eastern Region

  • Adolescent Medicine Collaboration of Iowa
  • Area Substance Abuse Council
  • Cedar Valley United Way
  • Community Action of Southeast Iowa
  • Family Resources
  • Foundation 2 Crisis Services
  • Iowa Family Counseling
  • Lee County The Best You Coalition
  • Lutheran Services in Iowa
  • Rosecrance Health Network
  • Tanager Place
  • United Way of East Central Iowa
  • United Way of the Great River Region
  • University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
  • Van Buren County Child Abuse Council & SAFE Coalition
  • Vera French Community Mental Health Center
  • Washington County Public Health

Western Region

  • Boys and Girls Home and Family Services
  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Sioux City
  • CHI Health
  • Crittenton Center
  • Foundation 2 Crisis Services
  • Lutheran Services in Iowa
  • Plains Area Mental Health, Inc.
  • Rosecrance Health Network
  • Seasons Center for Behavioral Health
  • Sharon Nieman, Sioux Rivers Region Children's Behavioral Coordinator
  • United Way of Siouxland
  • University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics


  • Blank Children's Hospital
  • Children's Health Specialty Clinics
  • ChildServe
  • Coalition for Family & Children's Services in Iowa
  • Four Oaks Family and Children's Services
  • Iowa ACEs 360
  • Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Iowa Association of Community Providers
  • Iowa Behavioral Health Association
  • Iowa Chapter AAP
  • Iowa Chapter of Children's Advocacy Centers
  • Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (IowaCASA)
  • Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council
  • Iowa Hospital Association
  • Iowa Nurses Association
  • Iowa Primary Care Association
  • Iowa Psychological Association
  • Juvenile Detention Coalition of Iowa
  • League of Women Voters of Iowa
  • MercyOne
  • Mindspring Mental Health Alliance
  • NAMI Iowa
  • National Association of Social Workers, Iowa Chapter
  • United Ways of Iowa