UI Health Care selected to provide free counseling for state's COVID Recovery Iowa program

The Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD) building exterior

University of Iowa Health Care is providing free counseling to Iowans affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency as part of COVID Recovery Iowa, a new program funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

COVID Recovery Iowa was initiated by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) with the help of $1 million in FEMA funds. The program, which went into effect Wednesday, May 27, 2020, provides free counseling sessions virtually, by phone, or through chat services. People of all ages may join groups online to find support and learn new strategies to cope with the effects of the pandemic in a variety of creative ways.

As one of the five providers under contract with DHS, UI Health Care is offering counseling, virtual activities, referrals, and help finding resources for individuals needing additional support. COVID Recovery Iowa will announce additional programs in the coming weeks to help Iowans build coping skills and resilience.

Iowans can access services through the following options:

  • Call 1-800-447-1985 to connect with a counselor specializing in rural issues and agriculture 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Call the Iowa Warm Line, 1-844-775-9276; to connect with a peer counselor or request to get in touch with a COVID Recovery Iowa counselor
  • Visit www.COVIDrecoveryiowa.org and complete a contact form and a counselor will get back to you

The UI Health Care program will be operated through Iowa Compass, the disability and referral service, which is part of by the Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD) and the state’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). The CDD has hired two virtual outreach counselors who will concentrate on people with developmental disabilities across the state, providing them with much-needed support throughout the public health emergency.

 “Our experience and expertise will help Iowans with disabilities deal with increased uncertainty, anxiety and grief at this time, when their natural social supports and community services may have been reduced due to the COVID crisis,” said Derrick Willis, director of UCEDD.

The outreach counselors will reach out to Iowans with disabilities via web-based meetings and telephone to promote social connections, assess urgent and unmet needs, and provide basic information about resources. The outreach counselors are participating in FEMA Crisis Counseling, to ensure they are prepared to provide appropriate support, resources and services to those in need.

“We are so grateful to our federal partners for providing Iowa with this critical funding,” said DHS Director Kelly Garcia. “It’s not uncommon to experience feelings of stress or anxiety during uncertain times. This funding will help us support Iowans across the state who are trying to find their new normal.”

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