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Challenges Governor on Iowa Juvenile Home

February 21, 2014
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Letter to the Editor:

Let me see if I get this straight,

Governor Branstad. You have chosen to close the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo even though:

1. It has a 94-year history of serving the disadvantaged youth of Iowa;

2. Juvenile Court Officers in Iowa say doing so removes a valuable and necessary treatment option;

3. Your own Director of Human Services says the level of treatment provided at IJH is necessary and justifies at least a 20-bed facility in the state

4. All of the states surrounding Iowa provide state administered residential treatment programs for females;

5. Similarly adjudicated males in Iowa have a state administered residential treatment facility;

6. By all accounts, staff at IJH had reduced use of seclusion and physical restraints by 98% at the time closure was announced;

7. The closure has resulted in students (a) being returned to settings they have failed at before (b) being placed in youth shelters, detention facilities or returned home, or (c) running away and now being unaccounted for;

8. Testimony in State Senate Human Resources Committee hearings revealed that IJH provided reports to DHS, accounting for every minute of seclusion and every incidence of restraint, with DHS not identifying any "excessive use" or providing corrective action;

9. DHS failed to provide "best practices" training to IJH staff and did not seek licensure of the facility;

10. DHS refused to enter into structured negotiations with Disability Rights Iowa to resolve issues at IJH administratively;

11. You failed to appoint a full-time Superintendent and Clinical Director at IJH for a nine and one-half month period prior to closure;

12. Over 23 million dollars of Iowa taxpayer money has been invested in facility improvements at IJH in recent years;

13. DHS failed to identify inadequate cottage facilities and failed to advocate for upgrades, allowing you and Director Charles Palmer to now claim that cottages are unsafe;

14. Your decision results in eliminating the largest employer in Toledo and upending the lives of 93 dedicated, hardworking, and professional employees that had no hand in creating this turmoil.

How Sir, by any stretch of the imagination, can you continue to claim that you "have no interest in returning to the status quo and are doing what is in the best interest of the children"?

Is this true leadership or, by chance, is there some other agenda at play here?

Connie Sarchet

Iowa City



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