Closing IJH is a waste

My experience with the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo goes back to 1973.

As a human services professional, I valued the progress children made in school at IJH. I have volunteered there since 2004. I belong to the IJH Foundation. I have been in the school and cottages regularly. I have never seen the terrible treatment that has been alleged.

What I have seen are children reading for the first time, enjoying fine arts programs the foundation offers and receiving compliments from artists and performers about their attentiveness and good manners. I have seen students cooperating and trying to help each other achieve the goals of Circle of Courage, their excellent treatment program. I have seen students learn to heal.

Recently, it has been gratifying to see the state spend more than $23 million dollars to improve the infrastructure at IJH, with a campus-wide geothermal system, a new vocational building and remodeling of one of the cottages. However, it has been sad to see the operating budget shrink until good staff members were stretched to meet the needs of more troubled children. It has been sad to see the student population decrease when children in need of IJH treatment are waiting in shelters and detention.

At the holiday program, it was heartbreaking to see girls – already shuttled around the system for years – not knowing where they will be on Christmas. It was equally heartbreaking to see dedicated state employees who will be soon be unemployed. What a waste of that large taxpayer investment and how unfortunate for Iowa’s children.

Send the governor a message: