May 2014: Parent Corner

Julie and Katie BeckettAs an adoptive parent of children with emotional and behavioral challenges, I have experienced how disjointed and fragmented our service system is. The mental health system is by itself fragmented and complicated, but in addition, the mental health system is also very separate from the physical health care system which makes matters worse when attempting to coordinate care. I would often think what a wonderful thing it would be if the systems could work together! For the last several years we have been working to develop integrated care systems that can provide families who have children with emotional and behavioral health challenges the needed support and coordination of care that is necessary to enable our kids to meet their optimal potential. We now have an exciting new program in Iowa to do just that! As the Executive Director of the Center for Child Health Improvement and Innovation at the University of Iowa, we are providing technical assistance, practice transformation coaching, training and data analysis for this new community based program that will help improve outcomes for up to 16,000 of Iowa’s children.

The Iowa Pediatric Integrated Health Home (PIHH) program was developed as part of Iowa’s State Plan with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Section 2703).  The PIHH is administered by Magellan Behavioral Care of Iowa in partnership with Iowa Medicaid Enterprise. Services are provided by locally based community agencies. The program  serves patients covered by Medicaid, up to 18 years of age, diagnosed with a Serious Emotional Disorder using a locally based team of professionals working together to provide whole-person, patient-centered, coordinated care for children with a serious emotional disturbance (SED). The team consists of a registered nurse, a social worker and a family support peer specialist. This team helps children and their families navigate the service system. The PIHH is responsible to:

• Provide whole-person care coordination across medical, behavioral and social services and supports.

• Provide an accessible, single point of coordination while assuring children and their families have access to timely, quality, and appropriate services and supports.

• Build alliances with various professionals that provide supports and services to the child and their family.

• Provide different levels of care coordination that meet the different levels of need for children and their families.

The PIHH was designed using the Systems of Care delivery model which utilizes a team approach in which team members, including those from a variety of agencies, work cooperatively and share responsibility for developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating a single care coordination plan.  The System of Care model emphasizes the need for coordination of all of the care children and their families need. By integrating the medical component of care with the family’s natural supports and the community’s social supports, providers are able to develop more effective and realistic care plans for their patients.

This program allows mental health and primary care providers to use dedicated care coordination and family-to-family support services to help families meet their goals. Examples of care coordination  and family support  activities include finding and referring to local services and supports, assisting with insurance and waiver paperwork, helping families coordinate appointments and meetings (such as Individual Education Plan meetings) as well as finding supportive services like respite, mentoring or transportation.  Importantly, Care Coordinators will also help support coordination of care with primary care providers and specialists, to help children and families attain important health outcomes, such as adherence to treatment interventions, and important follow up appointments and procedures.

For more information about the Center for Child Health Improvement and Innovation or the Pediatric Integrated Health Home program in Iowa, please email Vickie at or call Vickie  at 319 535-6294.

Julie Beckett

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