Employee speaks out about closure of Iowa Juvenile Home - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Employee speaks out about closure of Iowa Juvenile Home

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TOLEDO (KWWL) - Ninety-three people will be without jobs come Jan. 16th, after state officials announced they'll close the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo last week.

For Allison Graham, a youth service worker, searching for a job is a difficult position to be in.

"For me going to work didn't feel like going to work. It really felt like a second family, and I think that's what I'm going to miss," said Graham.

Graham describes her job as a lifestyle and said she's emotionally invested in the lives of the people she helps.

"That's what it's about is the kids knowing that there's adults that care for them," she said.

Graham, along with many of her colleagues, are advocating for the facility to stay open.

They plan to take part in an informational meeting on Thursday, Dec. 19th at the South Tama County High School gymnasium where local lawmakers, employees and former youth of the Iowa Juvenile Home will discuss ways to keep the facility open.

According to organizers, the meeting is set to start at 7:00 p.m. and is open to the public.

KWWL reached out to state officials to see if the community efforts could make a difference in the state's decision to close the Iowa Juvenile Home.

Those questions were not directly answered, however, Spokeswoman for Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) Amy Lorentzen McCoy issued the following statement:

"Director Palmer always welcomes the thoughts of Iowans.

The goal of the Governor, his task force, and Director Palmer was to identify how best to serve these youth, and to ensure that these children receive the best care possible in licensed and/or accredited settings. That third-party licensure would not have been achievable in the near future on the Toledo campus. Once the decision was made to find alternative placements, Director Palmer determined it was in the best interest of the youth to move quickly so that the children, their families, the staff, and the community, had certainty.

The Governor’s task force focused on what type of treatment these youth should be receiving, whether at Toledo or elsewhere. It was important to them that there no longer be simply a “placement of last resort,” but a system of services that best serve the needs of these youth. Director Palmer carefully evaluated the task force findings, and made his decision based on the implications of carrying out the task force recommendations.

The task force has many years of expertise regarding youth with mental and behavioral health needs, and the members spent hundreds of hours reviewing data, attending meetings, visiting the campus and preparing reports. They held public meetings with input from various stakeholders who have an interest in the treatment of these youth.

This was a thoughtful and thorough process."

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