Juvenile home closure wasteful

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: December 19 2013 | 3:54 pm - Updated: 6 March 2014 | 10:49 pm in
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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 at IJH 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 arts programs the foundation offers and receiving compliments from artists 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 $20 million to improve the infrastructure at IJH, with a campuswide geothermal system, a new vocational building and remodeling of one of the cottages.

But 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 soon will be unemployed. What a waste of taxpayer investment, and how unfortunate for Iowas children.

Carol Thompson

Coralville

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