The Iowa legislature went home earlier this month, but the Child and Family Center still has one piece of business to conduct. We want to thank some folks who fought the good fight on behalf of Iowa children and their families this year. They showed up at the Capitol, brought data, analysis and stories, brightened our days and conducted their duties with care and passion.

There were more disappointments than victories for children and families during session, but there were some victories and the folks listed here were part of the reason. So we will give thanks for them, in no particular order:


We are so happy to work closely this session with CHANEY YEAST, who oversees government relations for Blank Children’s Hospital. Chaney was an invaluable partner advocating for the health and well-being for Iowa children. She played a big role in helping establish a children’s mental health system.

We also love working with LISA CUSHATT, who manages the Central Iowa ACEs 360 Coalition. Lisa helped legislators understand the lifelong impacts of adverse childhood experiences and the importance of initiatives to prevent or mitigate their effects. Her expertise, passion and coalition building have been instrumental in raising awareness on these issues.

Many thanks to Senator LIZ MATHIS of Hiawatha for being a tireless advocate for children. She continues to lead the way in advocating for a children’s mental health system. She also understands the critical role Medicaid plays in helping ensure that 300,000 Iowa kids get the health care they need and has been persistent in calling for reforms to Iowa’s troubled Medicaid managed care program.

We were so happy to get to know two members of the Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisory Committee—ANN GRUENEWALD, president and CEO of Four Oaks in Cedar Rapids, and KIM SCORZA, president and CEO of Seasons Center in Spencer. They advocated tirelessly for a “children’s system” that would provide equitable access to quality mental health and well-being services to children across the state.

We loved hearing from CHERYLL JONES (who works for the Child Health Specialty Clinics in Ottumwa and is a CFPC board member) and ANGIE KENDALL (from the Child Abuse Council in Quad Cities) on what the state needs to do prevent and mitigate childhood adversity. The two testified in front of the Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee in January.

Angie Kendall (center) and Cheryll Jones (right) testifying at the Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee in January.

STEVE SCOTT brings his wealth of policy and advocacy experience to advocate for the American Academy of Pediatrics-Iowa Chapter (AAP) at the statehouse. The AAP is a tremendous partner of ours and a trusted voice on what is best for children’s health. We are grateful for their partnership, and happy Steve is their representative!

It’s always a good day at the Capitol when we see DR. AMY SHRIVER. Amy, a pediatrician at Blank Children’s Hospital, is a passionate and articulate advocate who always manages to make time to step up and speak out for children (and take a selfie or two) despite her busy clinic schedule!

We would not be able to keep up with the intricacies of tax policy without the expertise of MIKE OWEN and PETER FISHER at the Iowa Policy Project. Mike, Peter and their colleagues at IPP are incredibly valued partners and we appreciate that we get to work with them frequently as the Iowa Fiscal Partnership, a joint effort of our two organizations.

Speaking of taxes, we can’t not thank Senators PAM JOCHUM of Dubuque and JOE BOLKCOM of Iowa City for their tireless efforts speaking out on the Iowa Senate floor against the disastrous tax bill that passed this session. 

On the House side, a huge shout out to retiring Representative DAVE HEATON of Mount Pleasant, a long-time legislator who chaired the HHS budget subcommittee. Over the years Rep. Heaton has been a voice in his caucus for many services for children, including 1st Five, child care assistance (this year helping shepherd through an increase in provider reimbursement rates), foster care, children’s mental health and subsidized guardianship. There will be a void at the Capitol without him next session.

Rep. Dave Heaton (center) chaired the HHS budget subcommittee, serving as a voice on children's issues within his party. He is retiring after serving in the House since 1995. 

Thanks, too, to two other members of the HHS budget subcommittee. Rep. MICHAEL BERGAN of Dorchester and Rep. JOEL FRY of Osceola were key participants in the child care discussion, and we were appreciative of their thoughtful contributions.

Some other outstanding legislators are also retiring this year, and we will highlight two here: Thanks to Senator MATT MCCOY of Des Moines for his tireless advocacy on behalf of the vulnerable children in Iowa’s foster care system. And thanks to Senator BOB DVORSKY of Coralville for always speaking up for our state’s at-risk children and their families.

Thanks to the Iowa DHS Division of Adult, Children & Family Services, headed by WENDY RICKMAN, for the decision to implement subsidized guardianship under administrative rules, heading off another uncertain legislative effort. In its first year of implementation subsidized guardianship is projected to move about 200 youth out of foster care and into the care of a relative or person with family-like ties.

Many thanks to KATHY STACHON, the Senate Lobbyist Clerk, for providing much needed technical support and helping us navigate the many rules and requirements lobbyists must follow.

Similarly, KENNETH OHMS from the Legislative Services Agency is always there to provide accurate, nonpartisan data and policy explanations on legislation. We appreciate his tremendous knowledge and expertise.

A thank you to Democratic and Republican CAUCUS STAFF, who provide policy and administrative support to their respective caucuses. Their work and dedication is appreciated by everyone during session and in the interim.

We are grateful for JILL APPLEGATE of Every Child Matters in Iowa for her advocacy on behalf of Iowa children and efforts to make children’s issues a nationwide priority. Her social media chops are the best!

A shout out to DAVE STONE, advocacy officer with United Way of Central Iowa—a key partner on child care and ACEs. His leadership over the last year or so on the OpportUNITY child care workgroup was vital in developing a unified message and ask for an increased child care rates this session.

Dave Stone (pictured in mirror), along with other advocates, including Steve Scott (second from left), Chaney Yeast (center) and Amy Shriver (fourth from right), speak with legislators during the ACEs Day on the Hill. 

We would like to thank LAUREN LINNENBRINK from the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children and members of the Early Childhood Iowa Public Engagement Committee for organizing the terrific Early Childhood Day on the Hill in March. 

CFPC staffers share a table on the Capitol’s ground floor with a terrific group of advocates who help us stay sane during session. Special thanks to longtime colleague LANA SHOPE of the Iowa Community Action Association and Iowa Head Start Association. We are also grateful to ERIN DAVISON-RIPPEY of Planned Parenthood and CONNIE RYAN of the Iowa Interfaith Alliance for organizing Moral Mondays throughout the legislative session. These informative sessions were invaluable to advocates.

Thank you to you, our NEWSLETTER READERS, for sticking with us through the ups and down of session and deep into the policy weeds. We'll be back with a new non-legislative session e-news format in June. 

And finally the biggest thank you to EVERY SINGLE IOWAN who took time to call, email or visit their elected officials on behalf of young Iowans and their families! You are the best.


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