Breakthrough Web Design - 515-897-1144 - Web sites for businesses
News & Entertainment for Mason City, Clear Lake & the Entire North Iowa Region

Founded October 1, 2010


Iowa Dem’s: Repair holes in Iowa’s safety net for troubled children; Increase effectiveness, stability, and quality of Iowa efforts


This news story was published on January 30, 2014.
Advertise on NIT Subscribe to NIT

140130_Sodders_Smith_news-conference

State Senator Steve Sodders of State Center and House Democratic Leader Mark Smith speak a news conference calling for repair of Iowa’s safety net for troubled children. Part of this effort would be a restructured, refocused, accredited Iowa Juvenile Home.

DES MOINES – House and Senate lawmakers have filed legislation to fundamentally reform the way Iowa helps all troubled Iowa children, especially girls. The legislation takes immediate steps to repair serious gaps in the care of delinquent juveniles or Children In Need of Assistance (CINA), gaps created by the abrupt closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. It would also establish a new, more effective, more accountable statewide approach to helping Iowa boys and girls who need serious help.

“I believe that every serious legislator, Republicans and Democrats alike, believed this is the time to make major reforms,” said State Senator Steve Sodders of State Center. “A restructured, refocused, accredited Iowa Juvenile Home is a key part of the solution, but only one part among several.”

The most significant parts of the new legislation include:

One: Creating a multipurpose, residential, accredited treatment center for female juvenile delinquents or female juveniles adjudicated child in need of assistance (CINA) at the Iowa Juvenile Home.

“Court officers and social workers who provide child welfare services across the state tell us Iowa needs a facility for the most difficult cases. We have one for boys and, right now, we don’t have one for girls,” said Mark Smith. “That’s unfair, unconstitutional and a terribly shortsighted way to treat young women who need our help.”

Two, Iowa’s first statewide assessment program for both boys and girls. This includes a “three strikes and you’re in” provision requiring all troubled children who have failed three previous placements to undergo an in-depth, on-site assessment at the Iowa Juvenile Home.

“The current, ad hoc system of determining what is the best placement for individual children needs to be more effective and accountable,” said Representative Mark Smith. “Iowa must stop sending children from place to place to place without conducting a thorough, residential assessment of which public, private or family placement is best for them. This also reduces placements in shelters or detention, placements that often last too long.”

Three, a long-term support plan for all youth placed at the new Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo and the State Training School in Eldora. This plan will include support as these children transition into young adulthood.

“The cost of helping these kids succeed is so much less than the cost of having them fail,” said Sodders. “Our goal is not to just keep them alive until they age out of the system. Our goal is to help them become successful adults.”

The lawmakers said there was significant bipartisan interest in their proposed reforms.

“Look, each of these girls is at the center of a world of hurt. Closing IHJ did not make things better for many of them,” said Senator Jack Hatch of Des Moines, the Senate chair of the Joint Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee. “I believe a majority of lawmakers believe that now is the time to pick up the pieces and do the difficult work of building a better approach. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. This is about taking care of Iowa children, especially the most challenging cases. That’s what we’ve started to do here.”

———-

MORE INFORMATION:

Better Choices for Troubled Iowa Children

Iowa’s first statewide initial assessment program for both boys and girls

For the first time, Iowa will conduct comprehensive assessments for CINA or delinquent children to determine either public or private placements. This includes a “three strikes and you’re in” provision requiring all troubled children who have failed three previous placements to undergo an in-depth, on-site assessment at a new Iowa Juvenile Home.

Dual purpose treatment at the new Iowa Juvenile Home

Female juvenile delinquents or female juveniles adjudicated child in need of assistance (CINA) can be cared for at the new Iowa Juvenile Home

Contemporary, evidence-based treatment

Directs the Iowa Juvenile Home to provide gender-responsive services and requires the DHS to implement contemporary, evidenced-based programming and training for staff. Programming, training, and future recommendations must be documented and reported to the Legislature and Governor annually.

Accredited education

Education services at the Iowa Juvenile Home to be provided by the local school district (South Tama County), the local area education agency (AEA), or another provider approved by the Department of Education.

National Certification

Directs the DHS to obtain certification for the new Iowa Juvenile Home as a juvenile correctional facility by the American Correctional Association and be held to the same oversight required of private child welfare providers.

Comprehensive plan and follow-up services to adulthood

DHS must create a written placement plan for all youth placed at the new Iowa Juvenile Home and the State Training School. Each plan must include a transition to federally funded support services, including the Preparation for Adult Living Program. The new Iowa Juvenile Home and State Training School will also provide follow-up services to help these young people transition into adulthood up to age 18, and make follow-up services available until they are 21.

Guardian ad litem accountability

A guardian’s ad litem are required to meet personally with assigned child at least quarterly and to report to the court regarding the child.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

 characters available