DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Departments of Public Health (IDPH) and Human Services (DHS) announced a new joint website that will provide the public, media, and stakeholders with information about the two departments’ “alignment” process.
IDPH and DHS will begin a health and human services alignment assessment process with a contractor, Public Consulting Group (PCG) out of Boston, Mass, to identify shared program goals and align and integrate programs, practices, and policies to “improve delivery of services and most effectively leverage funding.”
The assessment process will take nine months, wrapping up in January of 2022.
As part of the alignment process, IDPH and DHS will identify community-based stakeholders (organizations and community members) and other stakeholders to provide input and guidance on the departments’ programmatic and policy efforts. IDPH and DHS announced they would engage all levels of staff to inform the departments’ established goals and project plans, and create an organizational structure that optimizes the 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,” Kelly Garcia, the director of the Iowa Department of Human Services and interim director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, 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.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed Garcia to head DHS in September of 2019 shortly after asking the former director, Jerry Foxhoven, to resign. She was appointed the interim director of IDPH on August 1, 2020.
Reynolds stated that when she announced Garcia as the interim director, she wanted “to increase cooperation and collaboration between these two agencies to better serve Iowans.”
The original RFP for the contract that PCG holds published by the Iowa Department of Administrative Services in October indicated that not every part of IDPH would align with the DHS. Not included in this realignment are Professional Licensure Boards, Medical Cannabidiol, Infectious Disease, Acute Disease Prevention, Emergency Response, and Environmental Health.
In particular, Iowa’s State Epidemiologist, Dr. Caitlin Pedati, and her team, who dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, would not fall under this “Health and Human Services” alignment.
The alignment announcement stated that the connections between the two departments “are numerous,” and families who access similar services don’t have a clear pathway to connect those services that reach across both departments. One goal in the alignment process is “to wrap services around a family to ensure better outcomes.”
Other goals include opportunities to better leverage funding sources and the ability to identify the potential for expanded funding sources; break down siloes to create a unified, integrated behavioral health system; and better access to services and easier navigation of the system for the Iowans they serve.