What is the
Children’s Mental Health
(CMH) Waiver?

Prior to 2005 parents searching for help often made the difficult decision to give up custody of their child.

Now the waiver provides funding and services to help children remain living in the family home.

These children exhibit severe behaviors usually treated in an out-of-home placement.

Children must be diagnosed with a serious emotional disturbance (SED).

The waiver brings together a team  of professionals, directed by the child and their parents, to create a plan based on the child’s needs.

CMH Waiver Outcomes

  • Children are safe
  • Children are valued
  • Children are part of community life
  • Children maintain physical and mental health
  • Children develop and accomplish personal goals
  • Children and their families have an impact on the services they receive


Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify for the CMH Waiver, a child must meet the following requirements:

  • Be eligible for Medicaid Title XIX
  • Meet hospital level of care
  • Have a SED diagnosis

Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED)

The following must be true:

  • Younger than age 18
  • Have a current diagnosis (within the past year) from a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional
  • Symptoms disrupt daily functioning in the home, school or community
  • Diagnoses may include (but aren’t limited to):
    • Depression
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Adjustment disorders
    • Generalized anxiety disorder
    • Obsessive compulsive disorder
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder
    • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
    • Reactive attachment disorder
    • Oppositional defiant disorder
    • Conduct disorder

CMH Waiver Services

Environmental Modifications and Adaptive Devices

These are items installed in the child’s home to respond to documented health and safety concerns. Items may include smoke detectors, window/door alarms, pager supports, fencing and motion sensors.

Respite Services

We understand parents need to leave their child with someone they trust. The waiver provides a trained paraprofessional for short-term care, providing relief for the usual caregiver.

In-Home Family Therapy

This is a therapeutic service provided to the child and family. Therapy addresses the stressed and/or fragmented relationships that threaten the cohesiveness of the family. This service assists the child by supporting the integrity of his/her family relationships.

Family and Community Support Services

A professional provides skill-building to assist the child in the development of:

  • Daily living skills such as personal hygiene, nutrition, mental health education and medication management
  • Positive socialization and citizenship skills
  • Stress reduction




Parent’s thoughts on:

“Recharge! Regroup! Relax! From the demands of parenting our son.” 

In-Home Family Therapy:
“Has provided a qualified therapist to assist our family function in our natural home setting – keeping our family unit together.”

- Kelly, Des Moines parent of a CMH child