DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Montgomery County Jobs and Family Services failed to meet five of the seven federal data standards and four of the seven state standards according to a state review completed in August 2019 that was obtained by 2 NEWS.
Montgomery County exceeded or met both state and national standards in only one category – the recurrence of maltreatment of children in foster care. The county measured 9.1 percent, which met the 9.1 percent standard set by the federal government. It beat the Ohio standard of 9.8 percent.
Between January 31, 2019, and August 19, 2019, 15 representative cases were reviewed: ten of them were in-home cases and five were foster care cases.
Interviews were conducted with family members, caseworkers and supervisors, foster and adoptive parents, children, and service providers.
Among the items that need improvement are:
- Risk and safety assessment and management
- Assessment of the physical health of the child
- Child and family involvement in case planning
- Caseworker visits with parents
- Caseworker visits with the child
The state database shows 614 children are currently in the custody of Montgomery County, and the county confirms 165 caseworkers are on staff right now.
The county performed better against state standards. It exceeded Ohio goals in (1) recurrence of maltreatment of foster children; (2) permanency of foster children within 12 months of entry; (3) re-entry into foster care within 12 months. The only federal standard the county met was a recurrence of maltreatment.
Federal government mandates localities manage child services
Federal law mandates that Children Services be handled locally. The state works as an overseer of local agencies but can’t dictate hiring or firings.
“(The counties) investigate abuse and neglect,” Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services Communication Director Bret Crow told WDTN.com. “Where we come in, we conduct proactive child protection reviews every two years to assess successes and outcomes.”
Crow said the state measure the federal standards – safety, well-being and permanency. He said they can put together improvement plans for counties but direct action has to come from the county agencies.
One example Crow provided was the recent death of a newborn in Scioto County. A 4-month old boy was murdered in 2019 and put in a well on the property of the mother and father. Scioto County Children’s Services had removed him from the home because he was born drug-addicted but was returned after working with the mom and dad.
The state couldn’t hire or fire any employees, but the Scioto County Children’s Services Board fired its director as a result of the case.
In its review of Montgomery County Jobs and Family Services, the state agency offered advice and improvement plans in cases where the county fell behind federal and state data indicators.
Takoda Collins death still being investigated
Deaths of children who are in homes investigated by a local children’s services agency are automatically reviewed by the state agency. The agency is currently reviewing the death of Takoda Collins, a 10-year-old Dayton boy who died at Dayton Children’s Hospital. According to a preliminary report from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, Collins died of drowning or being forced to drink water.
His father, Al-Mutahan McLean was indicted by the county on seven counts related to Collins’s death, including the rape of a person under age 13. The Dayton Police Department Homicide Squad is currently investigating his death.
McLean and two other adults who were charged, Jennifer and Amber Hinze, are in Montgomery County Jail.
2 NEWS has requested an interview with Montgomery County Jobs and Family Services several times, the agency hasn’t responded.
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