There appears to be at least a temporary cease fire in the battle over the Iowa Juvenile Home. A senate subcommittee has voted for a plan that no longer calls for reopening the facility, but does call for having a state run facility somewhere to serve delinquent teenage girls.
Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, says it’s a conscious effort to “calm this thing down” and come up with a bipartisan solution. “I like the fact that we’re back to talking about what’s the right thing to do,” Dotzler says. “…We’re getting away from the political finger pointing.”
Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, says there’s been a “refreshing” change. “I’m glad to see that location, location, location is not going to be an issue here. It’s serving these young that’s the issue,” Johnson says. “It always has been.”
Jane Hudson of Disability Rights Iowa — the group that blew the whistle on abuses at the now-closed Juvenile Home — praised the small group of senators for “moving in the right direction.” She had dismissed the initial plan which called for reopening the Toledo facility and funneling troubled teens there for evaluations as a “jobs bill.”
The revamped proposal no longer calls for making the Toledo campus an assessment center. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, says while they’re “setting aside” the debate over the Iowa Juvenile Home, the state needs to have a facility somewhere for delinquent girls. “I think we need to review what facilities we have available to us and make a decision on what makes the most sense about that,” Bolkcom says, “and we haven’t crossed that bridge yet.”
Staff at a new facility for about 20 delinquent girls would have to meet new training standards and the facility would be scrutinized by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals which inspects nursing homes, group homes and other facilities in the state. The components of this new plan are being drafted in bill form and will be considered by the Senate Human Resources Committee next week.