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Iowa Juvenile Home closing is wrong

December 18, 2013
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Proper hearing was not afforded before the Iowa Department of Human Services announced the shutdown of the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo.

Several of what are felt are unanswered questions have been submitted to Governor Terry Branstad concerning the decision by The Chronicle.

Even if a response to The Chronicle questions is received, more questions remain.

Some are:

How much weight was given to continuing to assure Iowa youth will absolutely be properly fed, clothed, housed, protected, received adequate health services and education as they receive at the Iowa Juvenile Home?

Did the Task Force rely too heavily on the findings of Disability Rights Iowa and not delve into or focus on the accomplishments of the Toledo institution?

Fact Box

By John Speer

Editor

Several questions about the decision to close the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo submitted on Dec. 10 to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for a news story await a response.

Tim Albrecht, the Governor's press secretary invited the submission after being contacted by The Chronicle.

On Friday, Dec. 13, Albrecht told The Chronicle in an email, "Amy McCoy at DHS is working on this." Amy Lorentzen McCoy is the media spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Human Services.

While the intent of the questions was answers from the Governor, any response may provide more information on the IJH?closing.

Here are the questions sent on Dec. 10:

1. What plan is in place or is one being developed for delinquent girls who have committed serious felonies when the Girls Training School closes?

2. Concern is expressed the Task Force made something of a cursory visit to the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School campus in Toledo then retreated to Des Moines to make their decisions. Some claim the Task Force relied upon the reports of Disability Rights Iowa heavily and paid scant attention to hands-on sources. Should the Task Force members have "rolled up their sleeves" and spent time in the actual setting on a day-to-day basis?

3. State Representative Dean Fisher and State Senator Steve Sodders have both expressed surprise at the IJH decision. They have questioned why the matters were not delayed until the legislature convened. What is your response?

4. Local community members are, of course, facing the struggle of losing Toledo's largest employer and employees will fine themselves without local jobs-

-Are there any additional plans in place to aid employees other than the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

-Some $22 million in campus improvements including a new educational wing, maintenance building and geo-thermal heating have been added to the campus over the past few years. Can this kind of investment be abandoned or is there focus on future use of the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls facilities and campus?

And, did the Department of Human Services take a look at the effect closing the institution will have on the employees, their familes and this area?

It is not too late for DHS?to re-think the decision and allow for a more thoughtful and more intense examination before shuttering IJH.

-J. Speer

 
 

 

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