Children held for months in isolation cells, emails show - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Children held for months in isolation cells, emails show


Think of solitary confinement in prison. Now imagine a teenage girl in a room in isolation -- for almost a year.

The Des Moines Register uncovered emails that show that really happened. What experts don't know is why the same state agency that is in charge of protecting children from abuse and neglect seemed to be abusing children on their watch. 

"The overall thing these kids have in common is early childhood trauma," said Beth Rydberg with Disability Rights Iowa.

The children who live in the Iowa Juvenile Home have a long history of placements that were not successful -- sometimes nine, 10 or 11 different homes in their short lives.

Last November, investigators from the federally-funded organization say they discovered three teenage girls were being held in concrete block isolation cells in the basement.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Human Services say children were put in isolation cells for only minutes or hours, but Disability Rights Iowa said they found otherwise.

The group found one teenage girl was in an isolation cell from January 2012 to December 2012 -- nearly one full year. 

The Juvenile Home has no licensure agreement so therefore does not have to follow the same rules and regulations as other similar homes.

After this investigation came to light, the superintendent of the home retired. The clinical director resigned.

Gov. Branstad says he is confident "appropriate corrective action" has already been taken.

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