Iowa’s First Lady is urging legislators to spend more money to ensure there’s space in emergency shelters not just for adults, but for teenagers. Mari Culver says she’s also concerned about young children who are removed from a dangerous home and wind up — alone — in those shelters.

Mari Culver says "emergency foster care" services should be expanded "for every child who needs it." Culver visited several shelters during the last campaign and decided that any left-over money from her husband’s inaugural would be forwarded to the Iowa Youth and Shelter Services Foundation. According to Culver, there’s a shortage of trained emergency foster care families in Iowa. She says it is "unacceptable" for young children to be staying in shelters.

"Particularly so when you go to visit these shelters and you see small children in them — children under the age of 10 who are living in an emergency shelter because they have no place to go," Culver says. During testimony before a legislative committee on Wednesday, Culver read letters she’s received from kids who’re living in some of the state’s shelters.

Culver read a letter from a 15-year-old from Fort Dodge who said if he hadn’t been able to go to a shelter, he would have been placed in a juvenile detention facility. Culver is asking lawmakers to help expand the number of beds available in shelters for such teenagers.