Commissioners discuss Children’s Services issues

By Kimberly Jenkins -

SCIOTO — The Scioto County Commissioners held their regularly scheduled Thursday meeting, with many questions from residents about Scioto County Children Services.

Following the regular business matters, there was a question from the audience that opened up quite a lengthy discussion of questions and answers.

Once the floor was open to questions off the agenda, the commissioners were asked: “if they were satisfied with Scioto County Children Services?”

Commissioner Crabtree stated that he thinks they still have problems.

“We have had a couple of children who have died, they have made some progress, we can’t have another death in Scioto County,” Crabtree said.

Crabtree continued by mentioning that the state of Ohio likes to place the children with family members if possible and that the two children had been placed with family members both parents and grandparents. He said that Scioto County Children Services still has lots of work to do,

“They need to do background checks, criminal background checks, because we want to do everything we can for the safety of the children,” Crabtree said. “I can’t answer as to what Children’s Services is doing now or what they plan for the future, but I do know that there are a lot of issues going on and they need to try to figure a way and find a way to make it better.”

Commissioner Coleman spoke up and said that she felt that with two interim directors in the past bit of time that she thought they were making progress and that one had health issues that it was like they went forward and then backward during that time. She said with meeting the new director and meeting with him and the board, she came away with positive feelings and that the new director is going to do everything he can and he’s going to do a lot to correct the issues and policies.

Commissioner Davis said that he agreed. He also said that he believes there were changes at the first of the year.

“I think Mr. Howard brought in a lot of change when he brought in the State of Ohio. Ohio Jobs and Family Service came in with a team to do training to find out what was going on, what the problems were, they did this with those people that were in that building. They were with the employees during that time, we also continued to see issues within the Children Services with turnover, continued to see cultural issues that were occurring within that and the board was addressing that.”

Davis continued, “If anybody wonders what has changed, there are some major changes that happened from our standpoint. The board had seven positions that changed, I believe within the last two years. We started down that path. It has taken quite a while because of the requirements of what it takes to change the composition of the board and we’ve done that, at the same time there was work being done by that board. Has that work been sufficient am I satisfied with that work? Not yet, there’s a lot of things that could be still be done that need to be done. We’ve addressed those issues, there’s more to address we have made our feelings well known as where we stand, I believe personally there is a lot of work to be done.”

Davis spoke more, “I believe that Jason is a change agent, I believe Mr. Mantell is going to do what it takes to move Children’s Protective Services ahead. We want to make sure we keep that board at the very forefront of what we are doing. and what we are seeing there. Children need to be our No. 1 priority. It’s not about the adults, it’s not about hurting someone’s feelings, it’s not about whose job we can protect. It’s not about those things. We have to get passed that, we must get passed those issues and every decision we make, must be made through the eyes of a child. We need to do everything we can to take care of those children.”

Davis added, “There is a lot of work to be done. They are hiring new people I believe they are reorganizing the actual children’s protective services’ roles and responsibilities within the organization on how to protect our children better, to make sure that the policies and procedures that were already put in place are followed to the letter. There cannot be any on going back to the way it used to be and there can’t be any tolerance for that. There are reasons why there are laws put in place on how to protect children and to prevent them from going into a home that from what we’ve learned is total squaller and Annabell should have never been there to begin with. No one can convince me otherwise. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen again. A full review of all the cases is ongoing, I will tell you than when I found out there were cases where children were placed with individuals who have not had background checks yet, I asked for them to be removed. I asked for that yesterday. You don’t know where they are and I formally requested that.”

Davis added about the Commissioners , “We are restricted as a Board of County Commissioners, the governance of Children Services is very much under that board. There is law enforcement, judicial and other forces that are involved with this and unfortunately, we can push and we can push, but at the end of the day, these decisions have to be made by the people in the front lines and we have made it very clear what we expect.”

Davis went on to answer the question about if he was satisfied in 2020 and stated he was not entirely that the ‘proof is in the pudding.’

“We know what’s happened and there were policies that were not followed and that this cannot be tolerated in any way, shape or form, from here on out and that the Commissioners are doing what they can within the scope of the law to try to prevent these things from happening,” Davis said.

The Commissioners regular business was taken care of before the above situation:

A Request for Appropriation Transfer of Funds and a Request for Appropriations of Funds were both approved.

A Resolution/Authorizing the Engineer to request ODOT to review Engineering and Traffic Investigation/CR 476 High Str, High Street, Harrison Township was adopted.

Miscellaneous Reports and Budget Commission/Amended Certificate were accepted.

Ohio Department of Taxation/Casino Revenue for the Second Quarter 2020 was accepted with it being mentioned the funds were down in amount.

Job &Family Services/The Counseling Center/Non-Emergency Transportation (NET) Contract Amendment was approved.

A Resolution/Congratulating Lori Johnson on her Retirement from the auditor’s office was made.

The Approving of Payments/Various Funds Docket, Then & Now Certificates & Moral Obligations was also made.

The following were approved, the Sanitary Engineer/Easement/Right-of-Way Map/West Portsmouth Sanitation Project, Sanitary Engineer/Easement/Right-of-Way Map/Purtee Acres in Sanitation Project, Sanitary Engineer/Issuance of the Owner Certificate of ROW to USDA/West Portsmouth Sanitation Project and Sanitary Engineer/Issuance of the Owner Certificate Purtee Acres.

Back to questions from the audience, commissioners were asked, “At the Children Service’s meeting, Mr. Mantell said he could use more caseworkers and he might consider asking the Commissioners for more money, is this something you might consider despite the tight budget due to COVID?”

Commissioner Davis said that at that meeting, Mr. Mantell did ask for his board to approve a position within their budget and they do have a carry-over. and until they actually receive that request and the accompanying justification for it, he could not comment on that and that COVID has nothing to do with that. He said that when it comes to children that would not be a factor.

By Kimberly Jenkins

Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights

Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights