How COVID-19 is Impacting the Services of Children & Families of Iowa

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Des Moines, IA (April 3, 2020) – Children & Families of Iowa (CFI) responds to unparalleled challenges in serving clients who already faced food insufficiency, lack of basic needs, stable income/jobs, and affordable housing.

“Our clients faced these needs even before the COVID-19 crisis, but since then their needs have drastically amplified. Keeping clients with mental health issues connected and supported during this crisis has also become a challenge as we have had to expand our technology resources to meet the needs,” stated Janice Lane Schroeder, CEO. “Clients are suddenly required to change the way they connect with staff in an effort to stay healthy and reduce exposure to both client and staff. Often the need for technology and equipment is beyond their access. CFI is responding to the need in an expedient manner to ensure support when and how needed for clients served. CFI’s operations are being stressed, as we enhance avenues to remain connected to clients when they reach out for help and support.”

CFI provides services for families and individuals struggling with family dynamics, youth work readiness, juvenile justice, personal financial management, child care, domestic violence shelter and support, mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment.

In response to the awareness of the health and safety for clients, staff and community, many of the services CFI provides are currently being done remotely. This changes the dynamics of client engagement, and in many cases there are added barriers to the delivery of services. This includes: time frames in which services must be delivered, access to needed health services, transportation needs which place all at high risk for exposure and other specific services that are required contractually. This compounds the clients’ basic needs of adequate food and affordable housing.

Not only is the organization concerned for the safety of the clients and staff, there is the added stress of operational shortages. The organization is feeling the financial impact of the crisis. The need for additional workforce, supplies and operational support during the pandemic is a great concern. It is anticipated that more families may lose their insurance and benefits.

CFI historically has served families with high levels of toxic stress which directly impacts their mental and physical health. In order to continue sustaining mental health and substance abuse services, the programs will be required to increase expenses at a time when operational dollars are already stretched to the limit. CFI is in the process of expanding its ability to provide tele-therapy.

It is anticipated that the need for CFI’s services will grow as the impact of COVID-19 increases. “Experts tell us that some families will be leaving children home alone in order to survive and continue to have income. Child and domestic partner abuse is likely to increase as family stress increases. The use of substances and mental health symptoms will be greatly heightened,” stated Schroeder. “CFI’s trauma-informed staff are available to assist children, adolescents, and adults working through these issues.”

For more information about the services of Children & Families of Iowa or to make a contribution please visit


About Children & Families of Iowa

Children & Families of Iowa (CFI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families throughout Iowa. Headquartered in Des Moines with offices in Ankeny, Osceola and Ottumwa, CFI provides services, such as: domestic violence prevention and intervention, teen programs, family support, early childhood development, mental health and substance abuse. The organization’s mission is to restore hope, build futures and change lives. Visit for more information.