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Task Force: Girls only if Iowa Juvenile Home to remain in Toledo

Rep. Fisher, South Tama Schools express concern over recommendations

October 11, 2013
By John Speer - Editor (jspeer@tamatoledonews.com) , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Will the Iowa Juvenile Home - State Training School for Girls continue to operate in Toledo? The findings of a Governor's Task Force offers something of a mixed or indecisive answer. A draft report was made public Monday. (Read the draft in its entirety accompanying this story on the News-Herald website - tamatoledonews.com)

Among the recommendations are the South Tama School District take over the education program; limit those served to females only; new cottages be built, third-party oversight be put in place; and a program be developed so eventually no more children in need of assistance (CINA) be placed at the home - only delinquent girls.

The Task Force says "There must be a placement of last resort for delinquent girls" and "it should have the capacity of 20 beds."

Article Photos

Man entrance Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo.
News-Herald file/John Speer

The draft continues, "That facility could either be on the Toledo campus or could be placed elsewhere and could either be operated by the State of Iowa or by the private sector.

The report goes to Governor Terry Branstad whom can evidently direct some changes or pass on the issues to the Iowa Legislature for action.

South Tama Schools Superintendent Kerri Nelson told The News-Herald in an email response on Tuesday, "There are many questions that the district has about the role, expectation, funding, and feasibility of providing appropriate and high quality services at the Iowa Juvenile Home. The District requested the opportunity to seek clarification and additional information about the proposed funding. There was some level of discussion late last week; however, there are many questions that cannot be answered at this time including the established timeline for the local district to begin providing services."

Fact Box

Iowa Juvenile Home

State Training School for Girls

Fiscal year 2015:

Total 2015 fiscal year budget request: $10,284,666

state- $8,916,081

other sources- $1,568,585

57 beds

Estimated local economic impact: $7.4 million

Employees:114

(when fully staffed)

Source: Iowa Department of Human Services

Nelson said South Tama's schools role was not expected because the "the executive order about the task force work included outlining the transition of management to the AEA 267."

State Representative Dean Fisher (R-Garwin) told The News-Herald also in an email response on Tuesday, "One (recommendation) that particularly makes sense is the proposal to build new cottages that are all on one level and allow for better oversight of the children.

"These will be safer and require less manpower to staff.

"On the other side, I have grave concerns about the proposal to disallow Children In Need of Assistance at the IJH, keeping only the Juvenile Delinquents. The task force cited financial advantages to keeping these children out of the state institution, but that does not address the fundamental reason that these CINA children are there. The emotional, psychological and behavioral issues that cause the CINA students to be placed in the IJH are fundamentally no different from the JD children, they just take a different path through our legal system to be adjudicated CINA or JD.

"The IJH is the placement of last resort for our most difficult children, the legal path they take to get there and the funding that supports them isn't the issue that we should focus on, it's the needs of these children that should be our focus, and the IJH is uniquely suited to deal with these children, no other private or public sector institution has been able to help these children."

The Task Force was created after a Disability Rights Iowa legal team began making public the findings of its investigation. Reported to have begun in November, 2012, and continuing in some fashion after that, Charges of inadequate and illegal operations were publicized after the federally-funded attorney group went to The Des Moines Register with the story and it first surfaced some six months later.

Among the accusations were two or three girls had been kept in what amounted to solitary confinement in what were termed "isolation cells", one girl for up to a year; the educational programs did not meet requirements; and living conditions were inadequate.

Jane Hudson, Disability Rights Iowa executive director, expressed her satisfaction with the findings and solutions of the Task Force.

"Most importantly, DRI applauds the Task Force for recognizing that the mission of IJH needs to be clarified, " Hudson said in a press release issued on Monday.

Among recommendations made by Hudson in the press release were:

the Department of Human Services should issue restraint and seclusion regulations for IJH similar to the conditions of participation for psychiatric residential treatment facilities for individuals age 21 and under. IJH should also promptly create "comfort rooms," with music and stress-reduction tools, which youth can voluntarily use to calm themselves.

if the Governor decides to demolish the existing residences on the IJH campus, as the Task Force recommends, any new living quarters should be home-like, on one level to facilitate staff supervision, and adjacent to neighborhoods surrounding the IJH campus so that the girls can be integrated into the community, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision.

(The Disability Rights Iowa press release follows:

For Immediate Release

10/7/13

For more information, contact:

Jane Hudson, Executive Director

515-278-2502 x20 or jhudson@driowa.org

www.driowa.org

Iowa Juvenile Home:

Disability Rights Iowa Applauds the Recommendations of the Governor's Task Force and the Iowa Department of Education

On October 7, 2013, the Iowa Juvenile Task Force, created by the Governor through an Executive Order, finalized the recommendations to the Governor. Disability Rights Iowa (DRI) - the federally-funded law firm which began monitoring the Iowa Juvenile Home/Girls State Training School a year ago - is pleased with the recommendations of the Task Force. The Task Force, which the Governor created at the end of August, has worked extremely hard over the last month to come up with workable recommendations.

DRI urges the Governor to promptly implement the Task Force recommendations that can be carried out by the Department of Human Services and other state agencies. DRI also recommends that the Governor retain the services of the Task Force to review the progress of agency implementation over the next year, perhaps every four months.

Most importantly, DRI applauds the Task Force for recognizing that the mission of IJH needs to be clarified. Currently, IJH serves boys and girls who are adjudicated children in need of assistance (CINA) and girls who have been adjudicated delinquent. DRI agrees with the Task Force that IJH should be a small facility serving only girls who are adjudicated as delinquent. DRI also agrees with the Task Force that IJH is not an appropriate setting for foster children and supports the recommendation that the state create funding mechanisms to ensure that there is sufficient capacity in the community for CINA children to be served. State institutions should no longer be the "last resort" for children who are adjudicated CINA.

DRI also supports the following recommendations of the Task Force:

* the isolation cells outside of the living quarters be completely eliminated;

* the school be operated by education agencies, not the Department of Human Services;

* the deteriorating and unsafe residential cottages be demolished;

* stopping all future intakes of children in foster care, except during the transition period in which alternative placements are being established;

* the requirement that representatives of IJH youth (case workers, juvenile court officers, attorneys and guardians ad litem) have regular face-to-face contacts with IJH youth and report to the court about their contacts; and

* IJH have the same oversight as private providers contracting with the state for placement of similar youth.

Because the use of seclusion is a treatment failure, not treatment, DRI urges IJH to continue keeping extensive data on the use of any seclusion rooms in the living quarters -- with the goal of eliminating all use of seclusion. In addition, the Department of Human Services should issue restraint and seclusion regulations for IJH similar to the conditions of participation for psychiatric residential treatment facilities for individuals age 21 and under. IJH should also promptly create "comfort rooms," with music and stress-reduction tools, which youth can voluntarily use to calm themselves.

If the Governor decides to demolish the existing residences on the IJH campus, as the Task Force recommends, any new living quarters should be home-like, on one level to facilitate staff supervision, and adjacent to neighborhoods surrounding the IJH campus so that the girls can be integrated into the community, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision.

In addition, DRI applauds the findings and recommendations made by the Iowa Department of Education today. In its Targeted Compliance Education Review, the Department of Education mandated that Herbert Hoover High School, located at IJH and operated by the Iowa Department of Human Services, provide appropriate services for youth currently enrolled and compensatory education for past and present IJH students whose rights were violated under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Jane Hudson, the Executive Director of Disability Rights Iowa, told the Task Force: "I am very impressed with how Iowans can work together to solve problems. I am confident that the recommendations will be implemented because we are all collaborating to make a better future for the youth at IJH."

400 East Court Avenue, Suite 300 Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Telephone: 515-278-2502 Toll Free: 1-800-779-2502

FAX: 515-278-0539 Toll Free TTY: 1-866-483-3342

www.driowa.org

 
 

 

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