Letter to the Editor:
My name is Chelsea and I am 17 years old. I have heard about all the recent controversy regarding the Iowa Juvenile Home, and the news It will be closing down. I was a youth at the Juvenile Home for 3 years. From 2009 to 2011, and then returned for an additional 7 months!!!
I have been in every facility in Iowa except for 2 I believe. The controversy regarding the juvenile home is mainly about seclusion rooms and restraint policies. I would like to provide some insight into the other facilities I have been to.
I was at MHI IN independence Iowa, and it was the most cold, stark place I have ever been to. I was a child, and it was very scary. They diagnosed me with a lot of inaccurate mental diagnoses and when
I had behavior issues where I needed help, and care, they strapped me to a bed in a 6 point restraint and gave me shots of medication. The heavily relied on medication to maintain control. Bremwood is another facility. They hire a lot of staff from the local college that were untrained and unqualified. They had almost no structure, or clear rules. Clarinda and forest ridge allow the residents to run interventions and much of the program.
I stepped foot onto IJH campus when I was 13. I was angry at the world, bitter, and didn't have much faith in the juvenile system. I had been bounced around and I didn't trust anything or ANYBODY.
I got in multiple restraints daily, was belligerent and had self harming, self destructive behaviors.
Through time and patient treatment, I developed positive trusting relationships with staff members there and began to make progress. I
have NEVER recieved the level of care or compassion that I have recieved at the juvenile home. The staff were so empathetic, and taught me about life choices, and how to reach my potential.
They instilled values and morals in me that have morphed me into the successful person I am today! The seclusion rooms were never used out of context or excessively. I spent a fair share of time in seclusion rooms and it was because I was being disruptive to the rest of the group, or I was not being safe enough to be out in the open.
I have seen these staff be brutally and viciously attacked, their hair literally ripped from their head, bite marks to where it broke the skin, stabbed with Sharp items, punched in the face, beaten, etc. There is only so much you can do when a youth is to that severe point of aggression.
As soon as the youth is calmed down and all to process through their behaviors, they are returned to the group setting. Staff have a right to self preservation and to protect themselves! I would never be where I am if it were not for these angels on earth who put up with abuse every single day for the sake of helping a child and caring about them.
I went from that angry, untrusting, didn't care about anything kid to 4 years later a healthy, well rounded, successful adult with some of the best people on this earth now on my support team.
I work full time, am enrolling in college, support myself, and am independent. All because they helped me see and achieve my potential.
The juvenile home is a family, they are some of the only family a lot of kids will ever know. It is a unit, a team, a collage of different people that make up one great big family!
You will never find a facility that is as effective with their treatment and as caring as this one.
There have been hundreds of youths lives saved, and completely changed by this fAcility. I am thankful for the relationships and things they taught me every single day. Please consider this in the closing of the juvenile home. Please.
(Full name withheld)