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State agencies outline plans for alignment of public health, human services


The Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Human Services on Wednesday announced the launch of their new Iowa Health and Human Services Alignment website and detailed the steps they will be taking as the two agencies’ wide-ranging services are aligned under a single health and human services organization.

Over the next nine months, IDPH and DHS will embark on a health and human services alignment assessment with a contractor, Public Consulting Group, to identify shared program goals and align and integrate programs, practices and policies to improve delivery of services and most effectively leverage funding. The agencies will update the website regularly.

Both agencies have been led by Kelly Garcia since June 2020, when Gov. Kim Reynolds named Garcia as interim director of IDPH in addition to her role as director of Iowa DHS. Before coming to Iowa, Garcia was a deputy executive commissioner at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

As part of the alignment process, IDPH and DHS will identify community-based stakeholders, both organizations and community members, and other stakeholders to provide input and guidance on the departments’ programmatic and policy efforts. The agencies will also engage all levels of staff to inform the departments’ established goals and project plans, and create an organizational structure that optimizes delivery of services, supports efficiency for staff, and integrates the departments’ programs and services with community and other available resources.

“My commitment to you to provide frequent updates remains as strong as ever,” Garcia said. “There’s a saying I hold close, particularly in this unique type of work: ‘Nothing about me, without me.’ You have my pledge that, indeed, nothing about you will happen without you. This work must be done together, but change is coming. The result will not be status quo. I am hopeful that together we will embrace this opportunity head on.”

As stated on the new website’s landing page: “Between IDPH and DHS, the connections are numerous, and, in many cases, the same families access similar services with no clear pathway to connect them that reaches across departments. The work IDPH and DHS can do to wrap services around a family to ensure better outcomes is significant in terms of impact. In terms of work, there is much the two agencies can do with clear communication and purposeful collaboration between programs and a dedicated focus.”

Goals of the alignment include:

  • Better leveraging of funding sources and the ability to identify potential for expanded funding sources.
  • Breaking down silos to create a unified, integrated behavioral health system.
  • Better access to services and easier navigation of the system for those served.

Website users can also subscribe to receive notifications of updates to the site as they are posted.

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