Fresh Start Women’s Center

Fresh Start Women’s Center


Formally known as the Women’s Residential Correctional Facility, Fresh Start Women’s Center of Des Moines, Iowa provides residential treatment for mothers involved in the criminal justice system with a history of chemical dependency. The facility is also designed to accommodate the children of clients (up to two children under the age of five) during treatment. The facility does not provide on-site detoxification services.


Before admission, the client’s parole or probation officer is responsible for administering an assessment to determine if the residential program may be appropriate. Residents of Fresh Start Women’s Center may be admitted as a condition of probation or parole, part of a work-release program, as an Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) offender, or a woman in pretrial or jail transfer status.

According to the facility’s website, Fresh Start Women’s Center’s treatment program is gender-responsive and trauma-informed. During residential treatment, residents participate in a structured schedule of group counseling sessions, 12-step meetings, as well as one-on-one meetings with their parole or probation officer. In addition, residents attend educational lectures on a range of topics, including changing criminal thinking, anger management, obtaining a job, parenting, nutrition, and trauma. Clients may also be required to journal and watch educational films.

As a women’s-only program, counseling and educational sessions may also address issues commonly associated with women in recovery, such as domestic abuse, self-esteem, and emotional regulation. Clients with co-occurring mental health disorders co-occurring mental health disorders may also have access to medication management.

Along with participation in treatment for chemical dependency, residents are required to obtain employment and pay rent. Upon program completion, the staff of the Fresh Start Women’s Center provides references to community-based resources and serves as a liaison to any ongoing court or social services issues.


Upon admission, each resident is assigned a personal probation/parole officer. The center’s officer is responsible for creating an appropriate treatment program, case management, community referrals, and communicating with the resident’s community-based parole or probation officer. The sole alum polled by at the time of this writing cited the low client-to-staff ratio as a facility strength.


Although information is scarce concerning the facility’s living arrangements and related offerings, the center is able to accommodate up to 48 residents. In addition, most residential programs that accommodate children provide child care during treatment sessions.


The sole alum polled by offered generally positive reviews of the facility. Out of five stars, the survey respondent offered a perfect five-star rating for the facility’s ability to treat residents with co-occurring disorders, as well as a four-star rating for the staff’s level of experience and training. However, the survey respondent gave two-star ratings for the facility’s counseling options and the inclusion of holistic treatment methods.


There is currently no information provided on the facility’s website regarding its costs; however, residents are responsible for paying rent. The alum polled by gave a two-star rating for the facility’s affordability.

Fresh Start Women’s Center Reviews

  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • Strengths:Patients to facility ratio. Weakness:Parking and security.