I have been a member of the Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation since 2008 and visit the facility regularly.
I am a member of the True Colors Activity Program and am responsible for setting up enrichment activities for the residents. We have professionals visit the home to provide activities as well as off-campus trips for the residents. Whether the artists visit the home or the residents go on a field trip, the comments about the residents always are the same. The professionals were impressed with the behaviors, attitudes and their willingness to be involved with new experiences. The students are grateful, appreciative and let the visitors know how they feel.
I have never had a student complain about their treatment, nor have I seen the kind of treatment as was described in the Des Moines Register. These are young people who have been in multiple placements before being placed at the Iowa Juvenile Home. The previous placements have not been adequate or could not meet the needs of these abused, traumatized girls. In addition to the disruption of the student programming is the loss of jobs for the 93 dedicated staff.
There are deficits at the home, such as the educational system and the lack of adequate licensing, but there have been recommendations for change. The $20 million-plus spent on infrastructure improvements is well worth the additional improvements for the sake of the adolescents and the success of the program.
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