Branstad: Focus Should Be On Youth, Not Juvenile Home

The Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo is scheduled to close. (WATERLOO COURIER PHOTO)


By Katie Stinson

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Neither a district judge ordering him to re-open the Iowa Juvenile Home nor Democratic-sponsored legislation properly address the state’s responsibility for the troubled youth who were served at a Toledo facility his administration closed last month, Gov. Terry Branstad said Thursday.

Both the Polk County District Court decision and Senate File 2084 focus too much on the home and not enough on the children who were sent there, Branstad said Thursday afternoon.

“We ought to be looking out for the interest of the children, not the institution,” Branstad said. “I want the focus to be on the children ... the best placement possible for their health, their well-being and their education.”

“He’s covering his backdoor,” Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, a member of the Senate Human Resources Committee, said. “If you don’t have the right infrastructure and staffing you won’t get the best outcomes for the children.”

Branstad and the Department of Human Services closed the Iowa Juvenile Home and Girls State Training School in January after allegations that youth spent days, weeks or even months in isolation cells and were receiving substandard educational services.

“The actions we have taken were to protect these children,” Branstad said. “These are very vulnerable children. They have been abused. They’ve been held in solitary confinement or in isolation for sometimes days and weeks at a time and denied education. This is not a good environment for them.”

However, Democrats have charged that transferring the students was not in their best interests and that at least two have run away from those placements. That’s one reason Dotzler is supporting SF 2084 to “rewrite the system.”

Democratic leaders called for bipartisan support for the legislation to resolve the situation.

“It is our hope that people of good faith will come together and find a solution to this very important issue to help Iowa’s troubled female youth,” Senate President Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, added.

Branstad is consulting with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office on whether to appeal the district court ruling.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, indicated it might be better to use the legislative process to resolve the issue.

“We always operate better when we sit around table and try to work towards some sort of a solution,” he said. “Our concern … continues to be making sure that those girls are taken care of correctly.”

Conversation Guidelines

Be Kind

Don't use abusive, offensive, threatening, racist, vulgar or sexually-oriented language.
Don't attack someone personally. Keep it civil and be responsible.

Share Knowledge

Be truthful. Share what you know and what you are passionate about.
What more do you want to learn? Keep it simple.

Stay focused

Promote lively and healthy debate. Stay on topic. Ask questions and give feedback on the story's topic.

Report Trouble

Help us maintain a quality comment section by reporting comments that are offensive. If you see a comment that is offensive, or you feel violates our guidelines, simply click on the "x" to the far right of the comment to report it.

read the full guidelines here »

Commenting will be disabled on stories dealing with the following subject matter: Crime, sexual abuse, property fires, automobile accidents, Amber Alerts, Operation Quickfinds and suicides.

facebook twitter rss mobile google plus
email alerts you tube hooplanow pinterest instagram

What's On KCRG