The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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August 27, 2013

Iowa Juvenile Home cited for drug program problems

DES MOINES — The Iowa Juvenile Home has been given 15 citations for violations in its substance-abuse treatment program, according to a new inspection.

The violations from the July 29 search included a lack of oversight and failure to track whether some children were making progress in their treatment, The Des Moines Register reported.

The state-run home in Toledo provides housing, treatment and schooling to youths with serious behavioral problems. The state Department of Public Health licenses the program, and it is run by the state Department of Human Services.

The newspaper reported that the home is not subject to comprehensive facility-wide inspections, and it is exempt from certain fines and penalties.

The citations noted in the latest inspection do not carry penalties or sanctions. The home had advance notice of the inspection.

Disability Rights Iowa, a federally funded group, has been investigating treatment of children at the home, including allegations that some children are held for weeks or months in small isolation rooms. The home’s substance-abuse program received a near-perfect score last year.

Gov. Terry Branstad has said his administration is addressing the problems. Branstad’s spokesman, Tim Albrecht, said the governor is “committed to changing the toxic culture at the Iowa Juvenile Home.”

Albrecht said the state employee’s labor union has tried to protect workers at the home who are accused of using excessive force in improperly restraining youths. Danny Homan of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said Branstad and Department of Human Services Director Charles Palmer are more to blame because of the long-standing policies at the facility.

“Everything always gets blamed on the lowest level line staff,” he said. “Nothing is ever Chuck Palmer’s fault, and nothing is Terry Branstad’s fault.”

The state is requiring the home to submit a corrective action plan about the violations by Sept. 20.

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