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DES MOINES - Today, Gov. Reynolds signed HF690, a bill that creates and funds the first of its kind comprehensive Children's Mental Health System.

Watch the bill signing on Facebook here.

“Today, I signed a life-changing bill that helps lift the veil of stigma associated with mental illness and replaces it with hope, healing and comfort of community,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Iowa now has a first-of-its-kind children’s mental health system. This was, and continues to be, a top priority of mine to help the well-being of our young people for generations to come.”

The legislation follows the priorities in a Strategic Plan submitted to the Governor and General Assembly by the Children’s Behavioral Health System State Board (State Board) and codifies the State Board which was established by Governor Reynolds’ Executive Order 2 in 2018.

This legislation also establishes required core services for children, regional crisis stabilization, mobile response teams, 24-hour hotline access to services, and $1.2 million for home and community-based children's mental health services to eliminate the waiting list that currently exists.

The bill passed with strong bipartisan support earlier this year. There was a 83-14 vote in the Iowa House and 46-2 in the Iowa Senate.  

Below are her remarks, as prepared for delivery: 

Today marks a major milestone for mental health in our state. The historic bill that I will sign this afternoon is life-changing. It helps lift the veil of stigma associated with mental illness and replaces it with hope, healing, and comfort of community.

The time has come to FINALLY create a coordinated and comprehensive Children’s Behavioral Health System in Iowa. HF 690 establishes the first-of-its kind Children’s Behavioral Health System devoted to children struggling with mental health and parents who were forced to stand by helplessly.

By signing this legislation into law, we are lifting up Iowa’s young people and standing beside those who love them. This support takes many forms, from early diagnosis and 24-hour access to services through a dedicated hotline to regional crisis stabilization and mobile response teams.

Most importantly, Iowans of all ages will be able to access a full array of mental health services, when and where they need it most.

There has been a lot of talk about Iowa’s children mental health crisis throughout the years, but not much action. But, that all changed last year. It began with my second Executive Order and continued during this legislative session.

Big things happen when people come together for the common good.

I am extremely proud of the nonpartisan and far-reaching approach that resulted in HF 690. Parents, teachers, advocates, community leaders, law enforcement, and medical experts - we appreciated your input throughout this process.

I see many of you in the Rotunda and know it was your unwavering determination that made a difference.  This was especially true for Mary Neubauer and her husband, Larry Loss.  

Through your love for Sergei and by continuously sharing his story and being his voice, you ensured his memory lives on through others. Your willingness and courage to shatter mental illness misperceptions served as a catalyst for moving this legislation forward.

I would like to thank you and all of the individuals with us today for working closely with me, my staff, Director Foxhoven of the Iowa Department of Human Services, and Director Wise of the Iowa Department of Education.

Through ongoing collaboration, compromise, and communication, we were able to bring common-sense recommendations to the table.

It also took strong leadership within the Legislature.  I want to thank Floor Managers Representative Lundgren and Senator Edler, Speaker Upmeyer, Majority Leader Whitver, Representative Fry, Representative Brown-Powers, Representative Heddens, Senator Costello, Senator Mathis, Senator Ragan, and Senator Bolkcom for their hard work throughout the session.

This landmark legislation will ensure that young Iowans, who suffer from mental illness, will be treated with dignity and respect on the journey to well-being for generations to come.

Thank you again for helping us create a Children’s Behavioral Health System, where the path to healing is clearly marked and parents, now know, where to begin so their child can begin their journey immediately.  

At this time, I am proud to sign HF 690.