Governor visits Four Oaks; pilot project discussed

November 22, 2011

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Governor visits Four Oaks; pilot project discussed Iowa Governor Terry Branstad spent nearly two hours on Tuesday at Four Oaks, one of the state’s largest child welfare, juvenile justice and behavioral health agencies. Following a tour of the 33-acre campus and a conversation with four youth from residential treatment, the Governor met with nearly 20 members of the agency’s Board of Directors. The discussion focused on Four Oaks’ pilot project for a service delivery model that could promote a paradigm shift in the entire industry.

As a governor who has positioned himself as one who will look for public/private partnerships, as well as getting “the most bang for the buck,” Branstad was interested in the concept of providing children and families with treatment utilizing a long-term, comprehensive approach, rather than the standard short-term solution.

In explaining the new model to the governor, board member Brian Scott shared that it no longer makes sense to treat a single issue confronting a child. Rather, he explained, it is a more efficient and more customer-centric approach to helping kids reach a successful adulthood.

The topic of cost efficiencies, coupled with improved delivery of services, is a theme Branstad knows well. While the Four Oaks board is raising $2 million to fund the 2-year pilot project, the State of Iowa has contributed $160,000 toward the initiative.

“Today’s visit from Governor Branstad could not have been more successful,” said CEO Jim Ernst. “This was an opportunity for us to show him the work we do with kids and families, but more importantly, we discussed how our private, non-profit organization can be in partnership with the State of Iowa to produce the kinds of results we, as Iowans, expect and still keep the costs manageable.”

Headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Four Oaks is one of the state’s largest child welfare, juvenile justice and behavioral health agencies. Four Oaks and its affiliates serve more then 14,000 children and families in all 99 Iowa counties.