IJH closure is a failure for youth, state

Iowa’s adolescents in need of help lose again if the Iowa Juvenile Home (IJH) in Toledo is closed as planned by the governor. IJH has been the residential treatment home of choice for the most severely disturbed youngsters over the years. Delinquent boys receive help at the Boys Training School in Eldora. IJH has met this need for Iowa girls who are severely delinquent or whose highly needy, aggressive, delinquent behavior would cause harm to self or others.

According to news reports, these girls will be sent back to institutions where previously some could not be handled. IJH, in existence since the 1920s, has reportedly spent $25 million in tax dollars on recent facility renovations, while cutting the operational budget. Now the closing by state Department of Human Services, who provided inadequate staffing support, will leave behind expensive empty buildings and disturbed Iowa client girls facing yet another move and further failure.

The IJH is/was funded by the Iowa Legislature for the next fiscal year. Its existence is established by Iowa code (sections 233 A and B) developed by our elected State Legislature. How then can it be closed by unilateral action from the governor, helped by DHS administration with no state legislative input? Will our legislators allow it?

This just does not seem right.