The state senator who represents the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo is urging the governor to consult with “legislative leaders and other interested parties” before deciding what should happen with the facility. Governor Branstad says the recommendations a task force presented him this fall are already being implemented.
“And we have met with groups and indicated that’s what we intend to do,” Branstad says.
Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat from State Center, says he fears Branstad could decide to shut the facility down himself before legislators reconvene in January. Branstad says the task force “did not specifically” make a recommendation on what ultimately should be done with facility for delinquent juveniles who either have criminal records or are foster kids who cannot be placed in a foster home.
“We need to look at and decide what’s the most appropriate setting whether it continues to be Toledo or somewhere else,” Branstad says.
The task force did recommend reducing the number of teenagers housed in the facility from more than 50 down to 20, and making sure only girls are placed there.
“The needs of these deliquent girls — that’s got to be our focus,” Branstad says.
A group that advocates for troubled youth raised concerns about the home months ago, citing the use of long-term isolation cells for the teenagers as well as the denial of education as a punishment. The task force Branstad appointed to review the situation not only recommended changes in the way children in the home are treated, it raised concerns about the condition of the facilities in which they live.
Branstad made his remarks during his weekly news conference. Find the audio here.