Community gathers in defense of Iowa Juvenile Home - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Community gathers in defense of Iowa Juvenile Home

Members of the Toledo community met Thursday night to discuss the imminent closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home.

Teachers, state politicians and business owners were present, in addition to a few former residents of the home. Many told the crowd about how the home had impacted their lives in one way or another.

“I witnessed girls coming into the IJH with a very poor attitude to receiving help,” former resident Breanna Dailing said. “I also witnessed those same girls in tears when they learned they would be soon discharging.”

The gathering was a community coming together. Governor Branstad announced the Juvenile Home’s closure earlier this month. 93 employees will lose their jobs, and all 21 girls living their will be transferred out.

Hundreds gathered Thursday to share memories of the Home, and what it has meant to them. Most of all, speakers implored that it be kept open. Several students from the home spoke about their time there.

“IJH was the third treatment facility I resided at, and IJH was different,” Dailing said. “We all became a little family at IJH.”

One teacher remembered starting work at the home in her first year out of college.

“I did handle the job well and I could handle the youth, but could I change their lives?,” said Jamie Koster, a special educator at the Home. “Maybe. But what I didn’t expect was that they would change mine. No longer was I dealing with young innocent children. I was dealing with kids that had lived through violence I thought only existed in the movies.”

The closure comes after recent criticism of the home over alleged abuse by the staff. But the meeting was a call to action for some. Organizers passed out contact information for state and national politicians & media organizations.

Some think it’s not too late for the home.

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