By State Sen. Liz Mathis, Hiawatha (Senate District 34)
There are few things more important than the future of our children. As legislators, I believe we need to reflect that in our work at the State Capitol.
This year I have introduced several bills about children’s needs. After working on the children’s mental health system design and sitting on the Children’s Behavioral Health System State Board, I have learned from educators and mental health providers about immediate needs and long-term goals for alleviating the crisis and anxiety that kids are experiencing in their lives.
The bills include creating a grant program using $15 million in Instructional Support Levy dollars to develop and improve mental health services in the schools (SF2042 and SF2071), creating mental health days with follow-up from school mental health staff (SF2067) and making certain the Your Life Iowa crisis line is on school IDs (SF2027).
Since passing the children’s mental health system bill last year, we are working together on next steps: organizing core services needed at local levels and funding the system. Hard work is ahead to ensure the system is developed and supported.
Other bills I’ve introduced include expanding pre-school programs and using vacant schools to house pre-schools and daycare centers in urban and rural areas and other legislation to help more pregnant women and new moms for a longer period of time.
I’ve signed up as a sponsor to lower the cost of day care for families (SF2110) and to allow for supports for our direct-care workforce (SF2098). This week I joined three other legislators, two across the aisle, to mandate that health insurance includes treatment for a pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS).