Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad clashed with the state employees' labor union Monday over who is to blame for the Iowa Juvenile Home's long-standing practice of placing children in isolation cells for months at a time, reports the Des Moines Register. The paper reported Sunday that the use of long-term isolation at the state-run home in Toledo dates back to at least 1996, when Branstad was first in office and his current Department of Human Services director, Charles Palmer, was in his eighth year of running the agency.
The agency said Palmer first became aware of the home's use of long-term isolation — which violates the department's own regulations — in late 2012 when investigators from the nonprofit advocacy group Disability Rights Iowa visited the home. Branstad cited “union work rules” and employees who are “stuck in the old way” for the isolation rooms. But Danny Homan, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said union employees “have absolutely nothing to do with their use of these isolation rooms.”