At-risk youth to find new placements in matter of weeks after an - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

At-risk youth to find new placements in matter of weeks after announcement to close juvenile home

WAVERLY (KWWL) - In just a matter of weeks, 21 at-risk girls will need to be in new homes.

State officials are working to find placements for the youth who will be forced to leave the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo after the Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the facility will close in January.

Officials said they'll make placement decisions for the girls on a case-by-case basis and the placements will mainly be done through partnerships with community-based providers.

Lutheran Services of Iowa
(LSI) has two of about 20 residential facilities in Iowa. One of those facilities, where youth are supervised and under structure 24/7, is at Bremwood in Waverly.

Director of Residential Services for LSI Jeff Devine said his employees are preparing to take in some of the girls from Toledo if the state deems their facility and programs to be a good fit.

"Not only LSI, but other providers across the state, are willing to pick up the pieces," he said.

"There's some concerns that we have. Obviously there's a difference in the environments, there's a difference in the funding levels, there's a difference in some of the services that we can provide versus what Toledo would have provided. Those are all obstacles that we have to overcome. We look at them as opportunities and challenges," he said.

Devine said he's confident that while there will be challenges, they'll be able to provide the best possible care the girls need.

"We don't have an opinion as to whether Toledo should have closed or not. That's a decision that LSI just really has no vested interest in," said Devine. "Our job is to serve the families and kids of Iowa, and that's what we're going to continue to do, so we'll look at it as an opportunity. It gives us an opportunity to maybe struggle through some difficult times right at the beginning, but we'll be OK, and we'll be able to get these kids home as soon as possible."

According to officials with DHS, the 21 girls living at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo are expected to exit the facility by January, and the 93 employees will work until January 16, 2014.
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