Southwest Iowa Families

(Clarinda) -- Southwest Iowa Families offers several services for children with behavioral or emotional concerns.

That's according to Katie Gillespie-Jensen, who is a mental health counselor with Southwest Iowa Families in Clarinda. Speaking on a recent edition of KMA's "Dean & Friends" show, Gillespie-Jensen said one important program that Southwest Iowa Families offers is Behavioral Health Intervention Services, also known as BHIS.

"BHIS is only available for children who receive Medicaid," Gillespie-Jensen said. "It's a home based program, so the provider comes right to you. Based on the recommendations of the therapist, that provider will work with you and the child on strengthening skills to help deal with their behaviors."

"I think it's a real benefit that BHIS happens in the home," she added, "opposed to an office or regularly at school because people are more themselves at home. We'll be able to see what's going on, and then help you problem solve right there where problems come up."

BHIS providers have regular contact with the therapist who evaluated the child to allow for collaboration and implementation of the most helpful approach with each family.

Gillespie-Jensen says another service available for children is Dinosaur School, which is an interactive program that includes research-based curriculum, puppets, video clips, and more.

"That's a group-based intervention, taught by a trained facilitator and a therapist, for 3-7 year olds," Gillespie-Jensen said. "Children will develop positive social and emotional skills that will help lessen their behavioral issues at home and school. It's very fun and interactive."

Gillespie-Jensen adds it's important for children and parents to learn the skills together. She says the goal is for families to increase communication and the quality of relationship between family members.

"Parents and primary caregivers should know that they are very important in determining how much of a positive impact services will have for their child," Gillespie-Jensen said. "They should expect to be involved in part of, or an entire therapy and BHIS session."

"They really are the most influential people in a child's life, so it just makes sense that parents are involved," she added. "It really isn't reasonable for a child to learn a new skill and implement it all by themselves. That's hard enough for adults."

For more information on behavioral and mental health services for children, contact Southwest Iowa Families at (712) 542-3501. Gillespie-Jensen's full interview on "Dean & Friends" can be found below.