READ the entire bill- included as a pdf
An Iowa Senate Bill introduced last week by State Senator Steve Sodders and 21 Senate colleagues calls for reforming how the State of Iowa provides for what are termed "troubled young people" and is aimed at girls in particular.
State Representative Dean Fisher will introduce the same bill in the Iowa House, he told The Chronicle.
State?Senator Steve Sodders (D-State Center) and House Minority Leader Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown) outline a Senate bill which would result in reopening the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo. They spoke during a press conference Thursday in Des Moines. Senate photo
Provisions of the bill call for reopening of the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo as a "multipurpose, residential, accredited treatment center for female juvenile delinquents or female juveniles adjudicated child in need of assistance (CINA)."
The Toledo facility was closed on Jan. 15 on orders of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Human Services Director Charles Palmer. Their action came after accusations including misuse of seclusion rooms and education rights violations were made by Disability Rights Iowa, a federally-funded non-profit attorney organization. A Governor's Task Force also investigated.
All youth were transferred to other placements since the closing order first came down on Dec. 9 and most of the 93 IJH staff members were laid off.
Sodders told The Chronicle the bill provides several changes in the program and operation of the school at IJH.
Some of the changes the bill encompasses Sodders said include: "We change the Education to be under Dept of Education, AEA, or local school district, not DHS. We establish first of kind in State assessment and evaluation of CINA kids after 3 unsuccessful prior placements to be done in Toledo facility. We change outdated language and require up to date nationally recognized training for staff. We require two sets of accreditation for facility, one being for juvenile delinquents corrections, one for juvenile mental health CINA type cases."
Sodders also told The Chronicle "We took much of the Governor's own task force (recommendations) and DRI issues and incorporated those into this bill."
Sodders also wrote in an email, "Plus we have asked the DHS and Gov office on exact whereabouts of the kids he sent home over two weeks ago and had no response."
Concerns were voiced over the outcome of the new placements of some of the 21 girls transferred out of IJH during a Senate Human Resources Committee hearing conducted on Jan. 22 in Des Moines.
The Governor's Office has maintained closing the Toledo institution was "to ensure that the children could receive the best possible care."
The Senate Bill would need to pass both the Iowa house and senate and be signed by the Governor for the actions spelled out to happen.