State Board issues Plan for Children’s Mental Health System 11-15-18

On November 15, 2018, the Governor-created Children’s System State Board issue its strategic plan for developing and implementing a Children’s Mental Health System in Iowa.  To read the Executive Summary and the recommendations, go to It will be up to the 2019 General Assembly to pass and the Governor to sign legislation implementing and funding the plan. 

Disability Rights Iowa continues to be concerned about:

  • Lack of specifics in the plan, e.g. mental health screening requirements
  • Shifting of responsibilities from the state to the regional mental health and disability service entities
  • Minimal involvement of the Department of Education, areas education agencies and schools regarding the implementation of the plan
  • Failure of the Board to take a stand on how the children’s mental health system should be funded as the plan only contains possible funding recommendations 


In 2019, Disability Rights Iowa will be closely monitoring the progress of the Children’s State Board’s plan in the legislature.  DRI will also be developing a series of videos for Medicaid-eligible families regarding their rights under the Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) requirements of the Medicaid Act for children under age 21.  If you feel that your child is not receiving all of the Medicaid mental health services to which your child is entitled, please contact DRI at 1-800-779-2502 ext. 12, 1-515-278-2502 ext. 12 or online at

Access Denied Video Series

For many people with disabilities, certain everyday places and activities are inaccessible. Here at Disability Rights Iowa we want to showcase those instances through a campaign called Access Denied. Disability Rights Iowa intern, Zach, went around Des Moines to demonstrate what a person with a physical disability must go through to get to get to places like the bank or a coffee shop.Zach starred in and directed the Access Denied video series. The five videos look at Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act which focuses on public accommodations and commercial facilities. If you or someone you know has had their access denied, snap a photo and send it to us. We want to tell the stories that Iowan’s with disabilities are facing. Send us your photo and story on Facebook or at







A special thank you to the Iowa State Fair

Iowa State Fair globe

In 2012, the Disability Rights Iowa team attended the Iowa State Fair to assess its accessibility. What they found was that one of Iowa’s biggest events was not as inclusive and accessible as they had hoped. Recommendations were made and the Iowa State Fair took their responsibility to the disabled community seriously.

Four years later, the progress they have made towards accessibility and inclusion has been no less than remarkable. Between facilities updates, sign language interpreters and accessible shuttles/parking, it is clear that the fair has taken valuable steps towards making the festivities accessible to all.

Three Disability Rights Iowa employees who have a disability had the opportunity to attend the fair this year. Tai Tomasi, who is blind, was very impressed with the shuttle system and the improvements they made to curb cuts inside the fair. Emmanuel Smith noted that he used to have to plan his day around accessible restrooms, but this year he found they were all around the fairgrounds. Zach Mecham was pleasantly surprised with wheelchair access on the grounds. He was able to navigate the fair independently this year with no issues.

The staff at Disability Rights Iowa know what a process it is to make a facility as old as the fair accessible. We recognize that there is more to do but commend the fair’s efforts to improve on accessibility. We just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you and keep up the good work!