The Iowa House this week final legislative approval to a bill aimed at making it easier for parents to get mental-health treatment for their kids. Up till now, to get costly longterm or inpatient care, some people had to legally give up their parental rights to qualify for state payment. Ames Representative Lisa Haddens says giving up custody was a hardship for many families. She says it probably began years ago when there was a stigma that a child with mental illness meant you were a bad parent. She says the times haven’t entirely caught up with the information we have now, as Iowa’s among about 24 states that still require parents to relinquish custody. She declares “this is a great day for families and children.” Hadden works as a family support coordinator in Ames. Haddens says she gets letters from parents who’ve placed a child in residential treatment and then are notified they have to turn custody over to the state. “It makes the parent feel like they’re a bad parent, like they don’t have the skills to do it,” she says. Haddens says the bill will offer a “continuum of services” for children and families. The House gave unanimous approval to the measure. It was a priority of Iowa’s department of Health and Human Services.
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