October 31, 2014

Governor defends decision to close Iowa Juvenile Home

Governor Branstad says he has not read the lawsuit that’s seeking to keep the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo open, so he cannot comment on it. But Branstad says closing the home and placing the half-dozen teenage girls who remain there in a privately run facility is in their best interest.

“My heart goes out to those kids who’ve been mistreated and abused and not gotten their education,” Branstad says. “I think it’s pretty well-documented all the problems that have existed there.”

Last spring advocates for the teenagers raised the alarm about conditions in the home when they discovered some of the girls were being kept in isolation cells — one for about a year — and staff were withholding education from some of the teens as a form of punishment. The lawsuit filed today (Thursday) seeks a court order to keep the home open, but Branstad is proceeding with plans to find private facilities that will take the troubled teens who’ve been placed in the state-run facility.

“Trying to make sure that we have the best placement for these kids and that they’re getting the treatment and the education that they deserve and that they need to try to deal with the challenges that they have in their lives,” Branstad says.

The governor hopes to close the home down by mid-January, but a judge could order the home kept open until the lawsuit is resolved.