DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Since Takoda Collins’ death, reforms have been made to child services and abuse investigations in Montgomery County, but these agencies say, two years later, there’s still more work to be done.
In a statement Wednesday, Public Information Officer for Montgomery County Human Services Danielle Damon said Children Services is working with their community partners to “strike the proper balance between parental rights and child protection.”
“We have updated our local agency policies based upon recommendations made by a working group that included state officials,” Damon said. “We have implemented 100% of those recommendations that we are authorized to make at our level.”
According to the statement, some of those changes include updating policies to speak with all members of a household when abuse is reported, reaching out again to those who report abuse, exploring all case history reports, providing staff with additional training on procedures, policies and laws.
After Wednesday’s sentencings, Montgomery County Prosocuter Mat Heck called for continued changes.
“I think we have to be proactive, and positive and say, what can we do to better the system, so that something like this never, ever, ever happens again,” Heck said.
In June 2020, Heck released eight recommendations, some of those already underway, for changing procedures used by children’s services and improve communication between agencies working to protect children.
Heck said it’s working, this year there’s been a 30% increase in the number of cases being referred from children’s services to his office.
“Investigations of child abuse in Montgomery County should be the gold standard,” Heck said. “We should be able to set the example of how child abuse investigations are handled from everywhere.”
The statement from Damon said many of the changes to overhaul the children services system must come from the state level.
“It is extremely important to note, however, that ODJFS and the Governor’s Office of Children Services Transformation have ultimate oversight for the Child Welfare System,” Damon said. “Any major systemic changes must first come at the state level before it can be instituted at lower levels such as the county.”
Heck mentioned Ohio House Bill 4, which includes some of his recommendations, would sets new rules for reporting child abuse and neglect. It’s currently in committee with the Ohio Senate.