Disability Rights IOWA Recruiting New Mental Health Advisory Council Members

Disability Rights IOWA (DRI) is currently seeking applications for membership on the PAIMI (Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness) Advisory Council.  Individuals from across the state with an interest in protecting and advocating for the rights of individuals with mental illness are encouraged to apply.

Disability Rights IOWA is a private, non-profit, law center whose mission is to defend and promote the human and legal rights of Iowans with disabilities and mental illnesses.

The PAIMI Advisory Council is federally mandated to advise Disability Rights IOWA on the issues important to Iowan’s receiving mental health services, their families and communities.

The volunteer PAIMI Advisory Council meets three to four times per year at our Des Moines offices.  The Council participates in planning the agency’s areas of focus with the Board of Directors and staff; reports to the federal government on an annual basis with an objective critique of the services that Disability Rights IOWA provided to individuals with mental illness; and stays abreast of statewide mental health service issues and concerns.

The PAIMI Advisory Council is made up of a diverse group of Iowans from across the state including:

  • Iowans who received or are receiving mental health services
  • Family members of  individuals who receive or have received mental health services;
  • attorneys;
  • mental health professionals;
  • citizens knowledgeable about mental illness, and the advocacy needs of persons with mental illness

DRI will reimburse members for meeting-related expenses, including transportation, meals, hotel, etc.

If you are interested, please complete the application for the PAIMI Advisory Council and email it to kvandevorde@driowa.org, or address it to the attention of the Membership Committee, Disability Rights Iowa, 400 East Court Avenue, Suite 300, Des Moines, IA 50309.

Please feel free to forward/distribute this email to anyone who may be interested.

#IamMedicaidIowa Join Us!

Many lawmakers and citizens see dollar signs rather than faces when considering Medicaid Managed Care issues in Iowa. Help Disability Rights Iowa show lawmakers that Iowans in the Medicaid Managed Care system are just like them. They want to live in their homes in their communities rather than going to an institution. However, they can’t do so without the state sufficiently funding their services.

DRI wants Iowa lawmakers to see faces, not just numbers. We will be sharing your photos and stories with legislators during the 2018 session. Join the #IamMedicaidIowa movement and share your story.  

Get involved:

  1. Print the #IamMedicaidIowa Instructions and Printable Sign and have your picture taken holding the sign.
  2. Copy and paste the prepared statement listed below that most closely resembles your relation to Medicaid into an email. Attach your picture and if you choose, please share your own story regarding Medicaid. Send everything to IamMedicaid@driowa.org.
  3. Post the picture and statement on all your social media accounts and encourage others to join! Don’t forget to tag DRI on Facebook at @disabilityrightsiowa.org. Share this document with others and ask them to join the campaign.

Prepared statements:

#IamMedicaidIowa.  Many lawmakers and citizens see dollar signs rather than my face.  Just like you, I want to live in my home in my community, but I need the state to sufficiently fund my services.  Please remember my face as you make decisions about Medicaid Managed Care.

#IamMedicaidIowa. Many lawmakers and citizens see dollar signs rather than my face. I am a caregiver for a loved one who wants to live at home in the community rather than going to an institution. However, my loved one needs the state to sufficiently fund their services.  Please remember my face and my family as you make decisions about Medicaid Managed Care.

#IamMedicaidIowa. I am a Medicaid provider and my clients want to remain in their homes in their communities rather than going to an institution. However, my clients need the state to sufficiently fund their services. Please remember my face and my clients as you make decisions about Medicaid Managed Care.

#IamMedicaidIowa. I am an Iowa taxpayer and I want my tax dollars to support my friends and neighbors staying in their homes and communities rather than going to an institution. However, my community members need the state to sufficiently fund their services. Please remember my face and my friends and neighbors as you make decisions about Medicaid Managed Care.

By sending in this photo, I consent (or as the guardian or legal representative of the individual in the photo) to Disability Rights Iowa posting my picture on its Facebook page and website, sending my photo to Iowa officials and policy-makers and sharing it on Twitter and Instagram.  I understand that my contact information will not be shared on Facebook, the DRI website, Twitter, Instagram or on any e-mails sent to state officials and legislators. 

____Yes, please add me to the Disability Rights Iowa mailing list so that I can get more information about protecting the rights of Iowans with disabilities and mental illness.

____No, please do not add me to the Disability Rights Iowa mailing list.  I get my information about the rights of Iowans with disabilities in other ways.

 

 

 

IOWA ‘SCHOOL’ RELIES ON SOLITARY, RESTRAINTS, DANGEROUS DRUGS, INSTEAD OF GIVING BOYS NEEDED MENTAL HEALTH CARE, LAWSUIT ALLEGES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Monday, November 27, 2017

 

Contact:    

Nathan Kirstein, 515-278-2502 x25, nkirstein@driowa.org (Iowa media)

Wende Gozan Brown, 646-216-3329, wbrown@childrensrights.org  (national media)

                         

IOWA ‘SCHOOL’ RELIES ON SOLITARY, RESTRAINTS, DANGEROUS DRUGS, INSTEAD OF GIVING BOYS NEEDED MENTAL HEALTH CARE, LAWSUIT ALLEGES

(Des Moines, Iowa)—State officials are knowingly employing unconstitutional and illegal practices at the Boys State Training School in Eldora, Iowa, causing lasting harm to youth with significant mental illnesses, according to a federal class action lawsuit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. The lawsuit names as defendants Jerry Foxhoven, director of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS); Richard Shults, administrator of the Division of Mental Health and Disability Services; and Mark Day, superintendent of the Boys State Training School.

The complaint paints a grim picture of a facility that has no full-time licensed mental health professionals on staff. Instead of providing necessary mental health treatment, workers at Eldora, as it is known, rely heavily on potentially harmful psychotropic medications administered without appropriate oversight or consent—as well as solitary confinement and a full-body mechanical restraint—to control youth who typically have not been convicted of any crime. Two non-profit legal organizations, Disability Rights Iowa (DRI) and Children’s Rights (CR), are seeking a court order to prevent policies and practices that violate their constitutional and federal statutory rights.

CR and DRI assert that these boys, aged 12 to 19, do not receive the mental health treatment needed to fulfill the facility’s mission of providing “a program which focuses on appropriate developmental skills, treatment, placements and rehabilitation.” For example, children with mental illnesses have been placed in solitary confinement for raising their voices, arguing with other children, talking while taking a shower and failing to clean up.

The complaint outlines the experiences of several named plaintiffs:

  • R., 16, who needs intensive therapy with a licensed practitioner, but instead is receiving brief telephonic “sessions” that don’t follow recommendations for his therapeutic needs. He has been given at least six psychotropic medications since June 2016, without appropriate controls or consent. He has been placed on suicide watch at least 27 times, usually after tying clothing around his neck and threatening to kill himself. He was restrained for 77.53 hours in a seven-month period—including 67 hours in the full body restraint, often as punishment for self-harming behaviors.

 

  • S., 16, has been diagnosed with a number of conditions and has reported auditory hallucinations. He began exhibiting suicidal ideations and behaviors at Eldora, but is consistently denied access to needed mental health services and instead is given psychotropic medications for treatment. J.S. has been placed on suicide watch several times after harming himself while in solitary confinement. During a period of 11 months, J.S. was placed in solitary 81 times for a total of over 580 hours, and he was subject to restraints 22 times in 10 of those months.

 

  • P., 16, has multiple psychiatric diagnoses and a history of depression and suicidal ideation. He also has several severe medical conditions that make his mental health treatment more complex. Despite his mother advocating for him, he is consistently denied therapies that may prove effective. He suffers severe side effects from the psychotropics he routinely receives, including constantly licking his lips, which his mother worries is a symptom of dyskinesia.

 

“The issues raised in the lawsuit will come as no surprise to the state,” added Nathan Kirstein, attorney with Disability Rights Iowa. “Officials have had multiple opportunities to make changes, and yet they have brushed them aside as though these kids don’t count. The state is required to act as parent, but no responsible parent would treat a child as Eldora does. These youth are there for rehabilitation and treatment—but they receive the exact opposite, and the facility’s harmful tactics are destroying lives.”

“Children with mental health needs should not be thrown in solitary confinement as punishment, or silenced with dangerous medications without proper oversight,” said Harry Frischer, lead counsel at Children’s Rights. “They require tailored psychological and therapeutic supports to have a real chance of growing into fully integrated, productive members of the community. The tactics employed at Eldora are archaic and run counter to the national and professional consensus in the treatment of children in juvenile detention facilities. They are also flat-out harmful and unlawful.”

 The lawsuit is being brought on behalf of all children confined to the Boys State Training School now or in the future and who have significant mental illnesses. CR and DRI assert violations of Plaintiffs’ right to substantive due process as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, as guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

# # #

 

Full Complaint Available Here

 

Childrens Rights Logo

Children’s Rights: Every day, children are harmed in America’s broken child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and healthcare systems. Through relentless strategic advocacy and legal action, we hold governments accountable for keeping kids safe and healthy. Children’s Rights, a national non-profit organization, has made a lasting impact for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children. For more information, please visit www.childrensrights.org.

 

Disability Rights Iowa Logo

Disability Rights IOWA is part of a nationwide network of protection and advocacy systems established in the 1970s by the U.S. Congress to respond to abuse and neglect of Iowans with disabilities and/or mental illness. DRI has the authority under federal law to investigate abuse and neglect and pursue legal, administrative and other appropriate remedies to ensure the protection of Iowans with disabilities and/or mental illness.  DRI is an independent, non-profit, 501 (c)(3) corporation funded through contributions, and grants from the Federal Government. Disability Rights IOWA advocates for the rights of Iowans with disabilities wherever they may live. For more information, please visit www.disabilityrightsiowa.org.