System Fails, Kids Die:

Print More


An investigation by The Columbus Dispatch found that 87 of 234 children who died from abuse or neglect from 2002 to 2007 were being monitored by state child-service workers. The investigation concluded that Ohio’s child-protection system has serious flaws. State agencies placed children in unsafe homes, failed to review child deaths and underreported the number of children dying from abuse and neglect.

Part of the reason may be that local child-protection agencies are chronically underfunded: Ohio provides only 9 percent of local child-service funding (the second-smallest percentage nationally) compared with a 39 percent national average. In addition, child-services caseworkers in Ohio are overworked and burn out when “reality overcomes altruism,” said Crystal Ward Allen, executive director of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio. The turnover of caseworkers is about 30 percent a year, Ward Allen said.

According to official state records, 26 percent of Ohio children who died from abuse or neglect between 2002 and 2006 were being monitored by child services, more than double the national rate of 12 percent, and the third-highest in the country behind Alabama (42 percent) and Florida (28 percent). The Dispatch investigation included deaths in 2007 as well. Ohio, one of only 11 states in which counties oversee child services, is considering a transition to a state-run system. Dec. 21,