The Iowa Catholic Conference supports SF 492, a bill to offer Iowans access to case management services in the event of a disaster.

The bill is currently in the House Appropriations Committee. If your legislator is on the committee, you can send a message to him or her in support of the bill.

Governor Branstad’s 2014 Task Force on Iowa Flood Recovery proposed the creation of “a dedicated funding source for disaster case management to insure equitable access to services for all Iowans recovering from the impact of a disaster.” SF 492 addresses that need by offering disaster case management services in addition to cash individual assistance in a time of crisis.

Currently, when the governor declares a state of disaster emergency, the Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council, or IDHRC, allocates funds from the state’s Economic Emergency Fund. Funds are distributed to individuals who meet certain income guidelines.

If SF 492 becomes law, case management services would be available to all affected by a disaster. A skilled helper would partner with a disaster-affected individual or family in order to plan for and achieve realistic goals for long-term recovery following a disaster.

Disaster case management is designed to specifically meet the needs of Iowans facing the natural disasters most common in the state but would not necessarily be widespread enough to be declared as a federal disaster area. It would more effectively coordinate local and state resources among existing networks to offer support to people making long-term plans to recover from such disasters.

Catholic Charities is one of the faith-based providers that is part of the network that serves in the event of emergency, and the bill would provide additional resources and support to ensure more people receive support in a time of need.

SF 492 has already passed the Senate unanimously and we are working for its consideration in the House, perhaps even during the week of March 21-25, Severe Weather Awareness Week.