Iowa Juvenile Home teens speak about living conditions - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa Juvenile Home teens speak about living conditions


Like many of the teenagers at the Iowa Juvenile Home, Erica Musgrove got into some trouble a few years ago.

"When I first came here, I wasn't doing all that well," said Musgrove, 16.

"We know that they're damaged when they come to us," said Mark Day, Interim Superintendent. "Our goal is to get them confident and competent when they leave."

Staff at the home held a talent show as a way to help the teens grow. The kids performed in front of their friends, who were supportive in every way.

"It gives them confidence," said Day. "It gives them a sense of social interaction. It gives them a sense of accomplishment."

Those are all traits the employees here hope to instill.

The talent show comes after multiple reports from the Des Moines Register accusing the state of not offering proper training.

Day says the staff is now being trained by a specialist.

"It's much more intensive training than anything we could send people to, because first she observes staff, then she trains staff, and then she observes staff again to see if they've implemented the skills that they're being taught," said Day.

The newspaper also reported that teens were subjected to excessive use of restraints and are still being held in isolation cells.

Day says that's true but it's the exception, not the norm.

Brittany Bell has spent time in the rooms.

"It's helped me in motivation to stay out," said Bell, 15.

She has stayed out of the rooms for the past several months.

"This place really helps me a lot," said Bell.

That's what staffers hope for teens like Bell and Musgrove.

"Now that I've been here a while, I'm working on my anger issues," said Musgrove. "I have got everything back in check."

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