Get Educated

LSI has several legislative priorities for the 2021 session as we advocate for both our staff and the Iowa families we serve. Click on each priority below to learn more about LSI’s position and how you can help us amplify the voices of our neighbors.

Sustainable Funding for Iowa’s Children’s Mental Health System

Iowa has created the framework for a new children’s mental health system but has not yet invested sufficient funding to make this system work.

 

Click here to download LSI’s policy statement on this priority.

 

Click here to download more information from the Coalition to Advance Mental Health in Iowa for Kids.

LSI Staff Testimonials

– Lauren, LPHA Therapist, LSI Therapy Services

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Investing in a Strong Human Services Workforce

During COVID-19, our frontline workers were deemed “essential” by the state. They showed up to care for the Iowans we are privileged to serve, despite risks to their own health and families. And yet Iowa continues to devalue these workers by refusing to reimburse these services at rates that allow workers to earn a stable income.

 

Click here to download LSI’s policy statement on this priority.

 

Click here to download more details from the Coalition for Family and Children’s Services regarding PMIC, QRTP, and Family Centered Services rate increase requests.

 

Click here to download the Iowa Association of Community Providers one-sheeter on supporting Iowa’s disabilities workforce.

 

View LSI’s opinion column about this issue in the Des Moines Register.

 

View LSI’s opinion column about this issue in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

LSI Staff Testimonials

“My name is Becky and I am a direct support professional working with people with intellectual disabilities in the Hardin County area. I love my job. I have seen my clients become more independent and meet their individual goals, like gaining and keeping employment, living independently, and improving their health, thanks to the support my team offers. I’m currently working two jobs and seeking a third because I struggle to make ends meet. During the COVID pandemic, the State of Iowa has called my work ‘essential,’ and I show up every day to ensure my clients are safe physically and mentally. I risk my own health and that of my family to serve. But Iowa doesn’t value my work by reimbursing these services so I can earn a livable wage. I’m asking you to support Iowa’s human services workforce — people like me — by raising the reimbursement rates for these essential services.”

– Becky, Direct Support Professional, LSI Services for People with Disabilities

“My name is Gina and I continue to show up for the families in my care because I firmly believe children deserve to reside in a safe and stable environment where all of their basic needs are met on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this does not happen every day. During this time, children are especially vulnerable to being victims of neglect and physical abuse while they are not attending school. Children are also at a greater risk for witnessing domestic violence, parental substance abuse, and becoming victims of sexual abuse. I will be continuing to perform random safety checks to ensure the safety of the children I work for have their basic needs met, and they are cared for in a safe environment. Child abuse does not stop during a crisis.”

– Gina, Family Support Specialist, LSI Family Centered Services

“My name is Lizzie, and I am a frontline worker with LSI’s residential treatment services for youth. I knew LSI would be a great opportunity for me as a psychology and political science student at Iowa State University. I had dreams of being a counselor, and this would give me an inside look at both mental health care and the human services field. I told myself that it would only be temporary, that I could tough it out for a summer and gain invaluable experience that would bolster my resume. I had no idea that I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

I remember walking onto the unit at LSI’s Beloit Residential Treatment Center for the first time and being greeted by hugs and genuine excitement from the kids. And that’s when it hit me: these weren’t delinquents to be feared, but children who needed to be loved.

I thought it would just be a summer job. But words could not express how deeply I cared about these kids and how invested I was in their lives. I wanted to do everything I could to help them grow, heal, and feel loved. I became one of the few consistent people in their lives that they trusted and knew I could keep them safe. It was an honor to hold that position in the lives of so many children who may not have known the comforts of a safe home or loving family. Despite being a full-time college student and working overtime due to staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, I continued to work at Beloit.

After eight months at Beloit, I can assure you that I don’t just like this job. I love it. In spite of all this, I submitted my letter of resignation yesterday. I have less than three weeks left at the place that has impacted me the most. No matter how much love or passion I have for the work we do at Beloit, there is no denying one simple fact: It’s really hard.

I can’t provide behavioral health services if I’m not given the resources to do so. I can do this job, but I can’t do it alone. No one can. So please, I am asking you to support Beloit. Support the staff so they can support these kids who deserve the world. I’m asking you to support Iowa’s human services workforce — and the kids we serve — by raising the reimbursement rates for these essential services.”

– Lizzie, Youth Associate, LSI Residential Treatment Services

“My name is Amber, and I work with people with disabilities. My former position was a Direct Service Professional (DSP); currently, I am a Contract Monitor for LSI’s Host Homes program out of our Dubuque office. I do this work because I care and value my current clients (and former clients!). I would have continued working as a DSP had the pay been sufficient. Our clients depend on us daily and we continue to meet with them for each session, no matter how difficult it may be. We continue to assist them to achieve their highest level of independence, regardless of the wage. Most of us have to work two jobs just to pay our own bills and when a better job comes along, we don’t have a choice but to take it. This is how it happens and I’ve seen it happen too often due to low wages. A DSP is hired, trained, and given a caseload. The DSP forms relationships with clients over a few months, then a higher paying job comes along for that DSP, they put their notice in, and leave those clients. What now? Those clients have to form new relationships with a new DSP every few months, IF there is staff. Without staff, our clients diminish and can eventually fall out of the programs that they desperately need.

I’m deeply disturbed at the pay DSPs receive for the work we do for our clients. We do this work for our clients, to see their progress, and to maintain the relationship with them and their families. And we should be compensated appropriately with a higher wage. We are relentless. We are dedicated. We are compassionate. ”

– Amber, Host Home Contract Monitor, LSI Services for People with Disabilities

Take Action

Reimbursement Parity for Teletherapy Services

LSI’s mental and behavioral therapy services meet Iowans where they are. The option to provide teletherapy is critical to providing mental health services to people with high-risk conditions, employment or childcare barriers that make it difficult to leave home, or people impacted by COVID-19.

 

Click here to download LSI’s policy statement on this priority.

LSI Staff Testimonials

“My name is Andrea and I am a Licensed Independent Social Worker at LSI. I work in both the Davenport and Clinton offices. I have been conducting telehealth since March of 2020 and I can say unequivocally, it has been a tremendous benefit to the people I see for therapy. It has minimized barriers, especially to travel and child care, and maximized availability in time and space. So many of the people I serve struggle with being able to attend therapy due to (among other things) their work schedules, their lack of transportation, and/or their lack of child care. Telehealth allows for ALL of these barriers to be removed.

Jeff, an individual who struggles with cerebral palsy stated to me that ‘telehealth has been critical to me. It’s the one positive thing about this pandemic because with my limited mobility, I wouldn’t have been able to see you at all.’ Without access to telehealth, Jeff would not only have continued to struggle with his anxiety and depression, alone and on his own, but it would have likely caused a greater decrease in his overall physical health, as well.

The World Health Organization states, ‘there is no health without mental health.’ That is why I am imploring you to ensure that ALL Iowans be given access to telehealth services for mental healthcare. We all deserve to be well, to be given the opportunity to BE well, and to strive for goodness. Because at the end of the day, we are all in this together.”

– Andrea, LPHA Therapist, LSI Therapy Services

– Lauren, LPHA Therapist, LSI Therapy Services


“Last March, the immediate changes to telehealth were extremely important for my clients’ safety and also my own. I provide therapy exclusively to Iowa’s newcomers, former immigrants and refugees; tax-paying citizens and individuals on a path to citizenship in the near future. Telehealth through audio/phone support allowed them to continue benefiting from mental health therapy and the healing process when it was not in public health interest to meet in person. Many clients were forced to take health risks through their jobs as essential workers, and phone-based telehealth allowed them to maintain support.

Even after the pandemic ends, telehealth will continue. Many clients struggled previously to overcome barriers to service. Many do not drive, do not have cars, and live far from bus routes and other transportation. Telehealth allows them to overcome some of these barriers, saving time in transportation and allowing them easier access to essential mental health care.

It is essential for telehealth to be paid at the same rate as in-office rates. The same staff time is spent doing telehealth as it is for in-office visits. Overhead for maintaining an office is still necessary for HIPAA requirements and there is increased technology cost to maintain the service and connections. Whether or not the client travels to the office, similar topics will be discussed, as the relationship and connection is maintained through the conversation, not in the physical presence of breathing the same air. For a therapist, the same skills and techniques have been shown to be used through telehealth as in person. The same licensure is required and the therapist is the same.

I ask that you consider telehealth funding to also include audio-only visits. For my clients, many do not have technology at their home to engage in video/audio visits. Clients also do not have the technology skills to navigate the video HIPAA compliant software. I have discovered that these additional barriers are common in clients who are older, clients living in poverty and extreme poverty, clients in transition from dangerous situations, and clients who face significant language barriers.”

– Sarah, Refugee Family Wellness Supervisor, LSI Refugee and Immigrant Services

Mason City Iowa LSI therapist Sherry Post“Telehealth has been fundamental to the wellbeing of clients throughout the duration of the COVID pandemic. It also proves fundamental beyond the pandemic. Of the clients I regularly see, 95% have reported an appreciation for telehealth. It has assisted in accessing ongoing mental health support and provided greater flexibility in services. Through the duration of using telehealth, more people have actually reached out for services. This alone displays the importance of ongoing support for telehealth.

With this great benefit, there have been some difficulties with insurance agencies supporting telehealth. Some families still had large co-pays or some were denied telehealth for therapy services. Within the realm of Behavioral Health Intervention Services (BHIS), insurance companies have often denied or shortened the span of services. This results in a disruption of support for families. Service time runs out and then therapists are struggling to schedule re-assessments in a shorter duration of time (three-month increments compared to six-month increments). This also takes more time away from therapists due to having to complete re-assessments and paperwork. Many clients who receive BHIS are in great need of this support. It is preventative for out-of-home placement and assisting in problematic behaviors. The disruption of services causes discord for the families and staff.  Children may feel abandoned, thus resulting in more behaviors when there is a disruption.  Having positive mentors and workers in the lives of these children can make a huge difference in the outcomes. Telehealth is fundamental for the mental health field in many ways.”

– Sherry, LPHA Therapist, LSI Therapy Services

– Anne, LPHA Therapist, LSI Therapy Services

Davenport Iowa LSI therapist Laurie Walters
“My name is Laurie and I am a licensed mental health therapist with LSI in Davenport. I am currently providing clinical supervision to several licensed therapists at LSI across the state. On a daily basis, I hear from my supervisees about our clients’ struggles and hardships and their lack of access to care. This is especially true for our families in rural communities who face challenges with not having reliable transportation. They often lack adequate income to obtain reliable transportation. Many have lost their employment or have suffered with being ill or having family members fall ill or die from COVID-19. Having access to telehealth services has made a huge difference for these clients and enabled them to access much-needed mental health and behavioral health services. I’m asking you to ensure every Iowan has access to telehealth services for mental and behavioral healthcare.”

– Laurie, Statewide Coordinator of Mental Health Services, LSI Therapy Services

Take Action

Support for Services that Empower Refugees and Immigrants

Iowa has a long and proud legacy of welcoming refugees and immigrants to our state. We must continue to support critical services that are there to connect with our newest neighbors, get them engaged in their community, and empower them as they grow and thrive in their new home.

 

Click here to download LSI’s policy statement on this priority.

 

Sign up for text updates and advocacy alerts from LSI Refugee and Immigrant Services by texting JOIN to 800.603.2917.

Iowa Stands with Refugees

Learn more about how you can donate, advocate, and volunteer to lift up our refugee brothers and sisters.

You can purchase the Iowa Stands with Refugees T-shirt at RAYGUN, and a portion of the proceeds benefit LSI Refugee and Immigrant Services.

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