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Former Juvenile Home student speaks up

April 4, 2014
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Letter to the Editor:

My name is Chelsea Reasoner and I am 17 years old. I was at the Iowa juvenile home for a period of three years. I have been following the recent events of the Juvenile Home and controversy, and I would like to state that I am an avid supporter of the juvenile home, and the treatment /care they provide. I went to IJH at merely 13. I was a broken, angry child. I internalized everything and had no faith in humanity. I was self destructive and had MANY severe behavior and attitude issues. Now, BECAUSE of the juvenile home staff and the dedication and care they portrayed to me, I have flourished as an adult And have entered the community a productive member of society. The compassion and values they taught me go with me throughout my days every single day. I keep all of them and the skill set I learned with me in my head and more importantly in my heart. They are now, and will always remain, my family.

I have heard some comments from Jane Hudson of disability rights Iowa in reference to the juvenile Home that I, as a former youth would personally like to address.

The major issue I would like to address is the allegations of abuse. To begin, I resided at the juvenile home personally with not Some, but ALL of the youth that have made accusations of abuse. There never was, nor will be, instances of abuse at the hands of IJH. Jane Hudson has made it her mission to discredit, and misconstrue the facts of the juvenile home. Being someone that was rarely on campus, and only spoke with youth that were being held accountable for their negative decision making, I hardly see it fair for her to have such input.

Allow me to paint a more accurate picture of the safety rooms at IJH please: YOU hAve staff, angels on earth really, that sacrifice time with their family, and easier, better paying jobs to come and work with the most troubled youth in Iowa. They come in every day with a fresh outlook and positive attitude about the day! Then, you have the youth, most very mentally unstable, some put in a blind rage literally over something as insignificant as a perceived wrong look. These youth are extremely physically and verbally aggressive. I have personally seen staff Sent to the emergency rooms, had torn ACL'S, permanent nerve damage, stabbed, premeditated brutal attacks, beaten on, and had their family and children threatened to be raped and killed. When a youth is at that place mentally, you MUST de-escalate the situation to process with that youth effectively. The youth is placed in a safe restraint supervised by multiple people not personally assisting in the restraint, and they are placed in a safety room to ensure no harm to themselves or others. The safety is bare, but it absolutely has to be to prevent personal harm. The youth is physically seen and talked to every 15 minutes. As soon as they are a little calmer and not in attack mode, They process through the situation and WHY it happened. What the underlying issue was. Staff help them figure out a game plan and they return to the group setting right then.

Jane Hudson, and DRI, has also publicly stated that all the girls in the last 10 years that resided at IJH thought it was hell, And hated it. Well, I would say that's a pretty brazen statement considering I was there for 3 of those years. IJH was not hell, or a bad place. It was a safe haven for kids who lived at the hands of abuse, violence, drugs and alcohol, neglect, and other horrendous situations. IJH welcomes them, and takes them in and works hard to give them TREATMENT! They truly care about us as if we were there own children. They help us discover what we need to do to be successful on our journey through life.

Also, for every kid in the last 10 year's hating it, there's a MINIMUM of a couple hundred youth from the 1970's until right now who will stand up and tell you that IJH was the best thing that ever happened to them.

Jane Hudson has exaggerated, overstepped her boundaries, misrepresented, and in some cases fabricated events at the Iowa Juvenile Home. She talked to youth that were behaving poorly, and refused to speak to youth with positive experiences of IJH.

I met with her myself and she did not consider anything I said because my experience did not fit her agenda of IJH. She had very bizarre, outlandish expectations and ideations about IJH. when the juvenile home closed, many kids were sent home, and back to the same horrible situations. When asked about their welfare, or if she had checked with these youth, her reply was that those kids weren't her responsibility.... perhaps because they don't help along her negative agenda of the juvenile home??

I ask you PLEASE do not let those stories you've heard sway you about the juvenile home. The youth of Iowa need the juvenile Home, and the treatment and care it provides. There is a Facebook page called Keep IJH open/save our home. We have 9 thousand plus members. I encourage you to check it out and read and fully consider the events at the juvenile Home. This home is imperative to Iowa.

Chelsea Reasoner

Chelsea now lives in the Tama-Toledo area



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