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Sodders: Legislature will act to aid troubled children

April 2, 2014
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

State Senator Steve Sodders (D-State Center) vowed during a Listening Post session in Toledo on Friday and in his weekly column (See Editorials or Legislators Report From Des Moines on the main page - the Legislature will act on behalf of troubled children in Iowa "before the session ends."

Four former employees of the closed Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo were among those attending the meeting at the Toledo Public Library.

The 94-year-old Toledo institution was ordered closed on Jan. 15 by Governor Branstad and the Department of Human Services amidst accusations of improper education and use of seclusion rooms.

Article Photos

State?Senator Steve Sodders (at back) conducts a Listening Post at the Toledo Public library on Friday, March 28. Continued concern about children who were being served at the closed Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls was one topic focused upon. Chronicle/John Speer

Youth being served at IJH were placed in alternative locations, reported to be both in and out-of-state,

The Senator did not predict the future of the 27-acre IJH?campus in Toledo directly but did point to "the $20 million in improvements made at taxpayers expense" over the past few years.

Branstad has maintained his administration is focused on providing the best care for the children.

Sodders said one key point of the investigation by the federally-funded Disability Rights Iowa (DRI) organization which deserved consideration was the IJH?school should have been operated under the Iowa Department of education supervisor rather than Human Services.

It was brought out the expectations of DRI were unrealistic for some classroom offerings because of the education level of some of the students and the potential ofdisruptive and physical begavior.

Staff members present and?Sodders agreed the highly-publicized use of seclusion rooms which DIR reported on extensively was "overblown" and did not reflect the circumstances accurately.

Per diem expenses for the 2014 Iowa Legislative session end on April 22. Whether this deadline marks the end of the session appears to be influenced by what is done to address the issue.



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