Iowa Juvenile Home closes abruptly - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa Juvenile Home closes abruptly

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TOLEDO (KWWL) - Authorities changed the locks at the Iowa Juvenile Home Wednesday morning, closing up the facility a day earlier than most people expected.

Employees said they couldn't report for work because state authorities had changed the locks.

Instead, they received a letter stating in part:

"Effective immediately, you are being instructed not to report for your assigned scheduled hours of work at the Iowa Juvenile Home through 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 16. You will be paid for your scheduled hours of work during this time."

The letter also stated employees should be available to their supervisor by telephone and be able to report to work within two hours of notification.

"It's really unfortunate and irritating to be treated like a criminal on the way out the door," said Todd Sprague, a youth services worker at the Iowa Juvenile Home.

Sprague, who has worked at the facility for eight years, said the abrupt closing is another slap in the face from state officials.

"It's ripping apart our family. They ripped apart the kids' families when they moved them out of here on short notice, and now they've done the same thing to us," said Sprague.

Sprague said there is no good reason for state officials to close the facility like they did.

But state officials said it's standard procedure.

Spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) Amy Lorentzen McCoy issued a statement regarding the abrupt closing.

She stated, "We understand this is a difficult time for employees who have dedicated their efforts to the Iowa Juvenile Home. The layoff is being implemented in accordance with relevant collective bargaining agreements."

McCoy said because no youth are on campus, no employees need to be there either.

When asked why locks were changed on Wednesday, McCoy issued the following statement:

"It is prudent business practice where numerous staff have had sets of keys for an extended period of time to change the locks. Because online staff presence is limited, this is an additional security measure to protect the resources paid for by Iowa's taxpayers."

She said Iowa State Troopers were on campus Wednesday for "additional security as needed."

Meanwhile, employees told KWWL they will continue to fight to re-open the Iowa Juvenile Home.

They plan to meet with lawmakers in Des Moines on January 23.
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