SCIOTO- During its Monday meeting, the Scioto County Children Services Board fielded questions and comments from the public who have grown frustrated with its failures to protect those in its care.
The murder of 5-year-old Annabell Greene in the custody of SCCS last month garnered particular attention from the attendees. Richard and Sonya Greene, the child’s grandparents, were recently charged on six counts of rape and accounts of aggravated murder. Further reporting revealed the couple had a prior record, with Richard’s criminal history dating back to 1995 in Florida on three accounts of child abuse among several other offenses.
In an emotional meeting, where board members and citizens spoke passionately and held back tears, common ground was reached on the need for change in a county with two deaths in the care of SCCS since March 2019.
“What’s happening next week in our sad, little town, where we have accusers of all kinds?” asked one citizen. “We can’t just have these meetings and come back next month and no action really being taken.”
While change was agreed on, there were differences in opinion as to what pace these changes should occur. In his first meeting as director, Jason Mantell stressed the need for purposeful change, although that might appear to slow down that process.
“I can assure you that we’ve made dramatic change,” said Mantell. “The unfortunate part when you make change is that it takes time. I want to extradite it, but I also want to do it the right way.”
Mantell said the board would be putting more attention on background reviews which may not have been carried out fully over the past weeks. There is a backlog in reviews due to the coronavirus and a system upgrade by the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center in New Boston, who typically does the checks for SCCS.
SCCS is now reviewing all background checks for a second time with the goal of not repeating past mistakes.
“There are people in the world that are terrible people and we can’t predict necessarily who they are,” Mantell said, the reviews conducted with the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office. “That’s why we are going back through and vetting people.”
With fourth directors in the past nine months, more inconsistency came from staffing shortages. Three caseworkers have retired in the past seven weeks and although they have been replaced, Mantell said they cannot be expected to take on as many cases when they are still navigating their new position.
In other leadership roles, some individuals have had to compile the work of three people into their own responsibility. Adding four new caseworkers in the past two months, Mantell wants to add at least two more to the staff.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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