Pella, Iowa group home closes due to staff shortage


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The labor shortage hurts a Pella family. They have just learned that their son’s group home has to close because their provider cannot find support staff to work there. And that’s bad news for JR Van Vark. He has been washing dishes at Pella High School since he was a student over 25 years ago. It’s a job he loves and easily adapts to his autism and learning disabilities. “Some days it can be a bit hectic. But other times not so much, ”Van Vark said. But her life is about to change dramatically. He recently moved to a Pella group home with three other men to spend more time alone, away from his parents. “We would hate to see him have to leave town. Our concern is for him, ”said JR’s father Greg Van Vark. Greg got the shock of his life a few weeks ago when his son’s group home announced it was closing. “We want a stable environment for JR, and we thought we had that,” Greg said. Christian Opportunity Center operates several group homes in central Iowa. And they are suffering from a major problem. They cannot find support staff to work in the shelters. This means closing the doors of the Pella house. “We hate doing it because it’s what we do,” said Christian Opportunity Center executive director John Eilers. EiIers says he regrets telling the families that one of their homes has been closed. He says he has 50 vacancies, so reduction is the only option. “It’s a lot more critical than we’ve ever experienced before, and it’s not just us. Other organizations like us are having the same challenges, ”Eilers added. The Van Varks say JR may have to return home to live. But they are 70 years old and worried about their son’s future. Especially if he has to move to another group home outside of town. “It would be devastating for him if he had to live somewhere else and not be part of the community for 43 years,” said Greg. Health officials answer the question. where are the workers and when will they come back? It is still unknown.

The labor shortage hurts a Pella family. They have just learned that their son’s group home has to close because their provider cannot find support staff to work there.

And that’s bad news for JR Van Vark. He has been washing dishes at Pella High School since he was a student over 25 years ago. It’s a job he loves and easily adapts to his autism and learning disabilities.

“Some days it can be a bit hectic. But other times not so much, ”Van Vark said.

But her life will experience a big change. He recently moved to a Pella group home with three other men to spend more time alone, away from his parents.

“We would hate to see him have to leave town. Our concern is for him, ”said JR’s father Greg Van Vark.

Greg got the shock of his life a few weeks ago when his son’s group home announced it was closing.

“We want a stable environment for JR, and we thought we had it,” said Greg.

Christian Opportunity Center operates several group homes in central Iowa. And they are suffering from a major problem. They cannot find support staff to work in the shelters. This means closing the doors of the Pella house.

“We hate doing it because it’s what we do,” said Christian Opportunity Center executive director John Eilers.

EiIers says he regrets telling the families that one of their homes has been closed. He says he has 50 vacancies, so reduction is the only option.

“It’s much more critical than we’ve ever experienced before, and it’s not just us. Other organizations like us are having the same challenges, ”Eilers added.

The Van Varks say JR may have to return home to live. But they are 70 years old and worried about their son’s future. Especially if he has to move to another group home outside of town.

“It would be devastating for him if he had to live somewhere else and not be part of the community for 43 years,” said Greg.

Health executives say the question is where are the workers and when will they return? It is still unknown.

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