Four women from the Waterloo area who’re part of a support group called “trauma mamas” are calling on Governor Terry Branstad and legislators to provide more state money to families like theirs who are struggling to deal with a child who has serious mental health issues.
Kim Jensen of Cedar Falls says there are over 1600 mentally ill children in Iowa on a state waiting list for in-home services — and some wait almost two years for help.
“It’s really cost effective if we put money into the services versus the crisis care,” she says. “It costs $128,000 for ambulance rides, ER visits and hospitalizations for a 10 month period. That’s huge.”
Donna Petersen of Denver, Iowa, has two adopted daughters who’ve been diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder.
“People, we often will hear them say: ‘Oh, that’s just kids. That’s what kids do,'” Petersen says. “…Yeah, those are some things that kids do, but it’s way beyond that.”
The “trauma mamas” say there’s a shortage of mental health professionals in Iowa and it’s difficult to find counselors who can work effectively with their kids.
“If you’re lucky enough to find one, she might be an hour’s drive away or more — or the insurance doesn’t cover it,” Petersen says.
The “trauma mamas” held a news conference at the statehouse late this morning. They say if their children had an intellectual disability, there would be no waiting list for state-funded help. Last year the governor vetoed nearly $9 million out of the state budget that would have helped reduce the waiting list for in-home services for mentally ill children.