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Sodders: Future of Toledo Juvenile Home can’t be determined in closed door session in Governor’s Office

November 29, 2013
Iowa Senate News Release , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

I am not giving up on the Toledo facility, its employees and the children who live there," State Senator Steve Sodders of State Center said..

Sodders has sent a letter to Governor Branstad asking him to bring together legislative leaders and other interested parties before deciding next steps for the Toledo Juvenile Home.

The letter from Sodders comes amid speculation that a decision is imminent from the Governor regarding the future of the Toledo facility

Article Photos

State Senator Steve Sodders
D-State Center

In the letter, Sodders writes "I am not giving up on the Toledo facility, its employees and the children who live there." He goes on to insist that a "decision about the future of the Toledo facility should include employees and policymakers from across the state, not just officials in the Governor's office."

Issues that Sodders, who represents the Toledo area, believes should be addressed include: updating buildings and infrastructure; expanding job training and higher education opportunities for students while at the Home and after they leave; and increasing both the number of staff and staff training opportunities

In his letter to the Governor, Sodders wrote that "it's now time for your office to bring together legislative leaders and other interested parties to help determine how best to move forward with the best interest of Iowa's youth in mind. A decision about the future of the Toledo facility should include employees and policymakers from across the state, not just officials in the Governor's office."

Text of Sodders Letter:

November 22, 2013

Honorable Governor Branstad

Iowa Capitol

Des Moines, IA 50319

Dear Governor Branstad:

The Toledo Juvenile Home and Girls Training School (Home) is an important component of Iowa's continuum of care for children requiring assistance from the State. Historically, this facility has provided effective services and programming to positively impact the lives of many youth who have faced very challenging life circumstances.

Upon learning of Disability Rights Iowa's findings concerning improper treatment methods, lapses in educational services and other problems at the Home, multiple groups and the media have investigated the Home. Your own Toledo Juvenile Home Task Force was created and issued its recommendations on October 9, 2013.

In consideration of the advice of advocates and experts, it's now time for your office to bring together legislative leaders and other interested parties to help determine how best to move forward with the best interest of Iowa's youth in mind. A decision about the future of the Toledo facility should include employees and policymakers from across the state, not just officials in the Governor's office.

I am committed to being part of this decision-making because I am not giving up on the Toledo facility, its employees and the children who live there.

The discussion of the future of the Home should cover a wide-ranging list of possible improvements that are designed to ensure that the facility remains a safe place for treatment and education. Discussion topics should include: (1) Updating buildings and infrastructure throughout the facility to meet programming needs and ensure safe living arrangements; (2) Expanding efforts to ensure that students have better access to funds for job training and higher education opportunities during their time at the Home and after their placement ends; and (3) Increasing the number of staff members, as well as training opportunities for current staff.

The Toledo Juvenile Home is an important facility to the people of Toledo and to the wellbeing of our state's youth. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Senator Steve Sodders

 
 

 

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