Capital Clicks

Iowa launches merged Health and Human Services department

By: - August 31, 2022 6:21 pm

Melting snow on the steps of the Iowa State Capitol. (Photo by Katie Akin / Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa officially has a new government department: Health and Human Services.

The new agency, which combines the state’s departments of public health and human services,  unveiled its new mission and brand this week. The department plans to merge the agencies’ social media page and a new HHS website will replace the old agencies’ websites this fall.

“Team members and partners shaped the direction for these new key elements of our agency by providing diligent, compelling feedback and input,” HHS Director Kelly Garcia said in a news release. “That has been true for all of our alignment work, and this launch is no exception. We are laser focused on sustaining, growing and building trust with Iowans, our stakeholders and our team – our new mission, vision and brand speak to that promise.”

The state spent two years working to combine the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Department of Human Services (DHS), according to a news release. The process was finalized with legislation passed during the 2022 session. The new department officially formed July 1.

While the merger is new, the two departments already worked closely together. Garcia, previously the Department of Human Services director, has also served as interim director for IDPH since 2020. Before her arrival, Iowa Department of Public Health Director Gerd Clabaugh served as interim director of human services.

However, there are still logistics to sort out. According to the state’s HHS alignment website, the state is looking to set up both former agencies’ workers into the same office building, and is reorganizing divisions and staffing structures. No layoffs are expected.

The new agency will need final approval from the Legislature on its transition plans, which are still being finalized.

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. Robin has experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald, in addition to working on multimedia projects, newsletters and visualizations. They were a political reporter for the Des Moines Register covering the Iowa caucuses leading up to the 2020 presidential election, assisting with the Register's Iowa Poll, and reporting on Iowa's 4th District elections.

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