Editor's Note: A copy of a letter Toledo resident and Iowa Juvenile Home employee Allison Graham write to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad was provided to The Chronicle by Graham for the Letters to the Editor section.
Dear Governor Branstad,
I have heard the best way to get through to politicians is a handwritten letter. I will be curious to see if you respond personally or if I get some generic letter from your staff.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Allison Graham. I was raised in Toledo Iowa. I went to college at Central and lived in Ohio for about 5 years but Ohio was not home and I love Iowa so my husband and I moved back to the area about a year and a half ago when I was hired as a Youth Service Worker at the Iowa Juvenile Home.
I would like to express my deep concern with your decision to close the Iowa Juvenile Home. I am shocked, devastated, sad and angry that the youth that you say you care about are yet again being uprooted and moved to places that will not ultimately meet their need. I am sure to you this is about money but for me it is about relationships I have spent the last year and a half building relationships with the youth that reside at IJH. For some of the youth at the Iowa Juvenile Home staff is the only healthy and stable relationship that these youth have.
I am not quite sure what you know about the home since to my knowledge you haven't visited any of the youth or staff but to me it makes no sense to place these youth back into placements they have already been to and kicked out of. What is even worse to me is the possibility of sending these youth out of state and away from those who have families they are in contact with, not to mention the money it will cost the state to send them to places out of state. It feels to these youth as more adults failing them. I recognize that you created a task force to help you make a decision of how to proceed at IJH but I do not believe their recommendation was to close the facility.
I am also deeply concerned for the Tama/Toledo community that I call home. There are several staff who call this community home. Their children go to South Tama. They have family and friends and own homes. This will have a deep impact on our local economy as several businesses rely on business from IJH.
Governor Branstad I would like to challenge you to meet some of the people who's lives you are changing, look into our eyes and hear the truth about IJH not half truths and even lies that the Des Moines Register has been printing in order to sell papers. I would love to sit down with you and hear you explain why you made the decision you did, and I am sure that I am not alone. Come to Toledo and talk with us or we can come to you. I think you owe us at least that.
I sincerely hope to hear from you Governor and would like to close by saying that yes we are down but we are not out. We at the Iowa Juvenile Home are resilient people. I can only hope the kids that we no longer get to serve can find the same strength.