The Iowa Department of Human Services is cutting back operations to part-time in 23 counties, which is leaving many child advocates in those counties reeling. Tricia Rosendahl, the principal at Clarion Goldfield Elementary School, says she’s stunned by the D.H.S.’s move to essentially close its Wright County office. She predicts it will end up hurting students and families.
“They’re saying it’s not closing. They’re saying it’s less than full-time. We have huge concerns for what that exactly means,” Rosendahl says. “They were saying possibly one day a week and by appointment only. That just makes it hugely inconvenient for our families and for people that need to access those types of services.”
She says people need to know they can rely on help being there when it’s needed, so cutting back office hours to one day a week will be highly impractical. Rosendahl says, “That just makes it very inconvenient and very difficult for us as a school to help those families when they need those services to help with their things that are going on at home.”
Rosendahl says the D-H-S plays a vital role in the Clarion community for families in need. The agency is apparently cutting back in counties where fewer people are seeking services, which she says is the wrong way to look at it. “Even though the numbers may be down in Wright County, that’s a good thing because we’ve been working together and we’ve been trying to make that a collaborative approach to be proactive,” Rosendahl says.
“We’re afraid if we don’t have those people close by right here in our county, that’s not going to happen any more and then we’ll be dealing with a reactive effect and we’ll see a lot more crisis situations.” The cutbacks are being made at a time the state is facing a critical budget situation and a D.H.S. reorganization.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City