Perhaps the seemingly constant threat of rain kept a few people home.
The well-publicized discovery by county sheriff’s officials of the body of six-month-old Dylan Groves at the bottom of a 30-foot well, has set off a firestorm of controversy, especially on social media, almost all of it aimed at Scioto County Children Services.
Both of Dylan’s parents currently are in a Scioto County jail facing murder and other charges related to their son’s death.
Nevertheless, a protest planned via social media by a local mother attracted a fairly small number of people early Monday morning outside Children Services’ New Boston offices. Protesters did say the number of persons on scene had waxed and waned throughout the morning and the protest was set to continue until early afternoon.
“We’re here for baby Dylan,” said Stephanie Carter, who set up the event via Facebook.
“He didn’t have a voice. We felt like we needed to do something,” chimed in Stephanie Carter’s mother, Carla Teresian.
As did others standing on the south side of Gallia Street and attracting a fair bit of support from passing drivers at least in terms of horns being honked, Carter has personal experience with the children services system. Carter talked about how she had gone to court to gain legal custody of two nieces, the oldest of whom was six years of age and the youngest a mere seven months at the time they became wards of Scioto County.
Carter stated she knows kids don’t always get the care they deserve. However, she did add in her case, the caseworker helping her nieces “was really on top of things and extremely helpful.”
Adam and Katie Smith are the co-founders of a still budding grassroots organization dubbed Every Kid Deserves a Voice.
Headquartered in Chesterville north of Columbus, Katie Smith said the group was founded in October in their living room during get-togethers of concerned parents and foster parents. They intend shortly to become a genuine nonprofit organization. Their website describes the coalition as advocates and activists for children and for change in Ohio’s child welfare system.
The pair wore matching T-shirts, the backs of which read, “We Are the Village.”
The Smiths stated they are registered foster parents but definitely have had problems with the childcare system where they live. Adam Smith said no one seems ultimately accountable for any issues or problems which arise. He further noted many caseworkers and others employed by the system are in no way licensed. Both he and his wife stated the lack of licensing feeds into what they perceive as a lack of accountability. There is no professional organization looking over the credentials or capabilities of many persons working in Ohio’s child protective system.
“If you had a medical issue you needed dealt with,” Adam said, “would you want someone who is not licensed taking care of you?”
According to the Smiths, the way in which most children services programs in the state are governed further exacerbates the accountability issue. County commissioners apparently have, or are supposed to have, some final authority, but Adam Smith contended it definitely doesn’t always work that way, describing many county commissioners as “ignorant” of what really occurs in the child welfare systems they supposedly oversee.
In the case of Scioto County, commissioners have indicated on several occasions the Children Services Board, not the county commissioners, have ultimate authority over Children Services activities. County commissioners do appoint the members of the Children Services Board and all three commissioners have been critical of the organization and pushed for two investigations into Children’s Services activities.
As has been publicized, the board of commissioners also voted unanimously to recommend the Children Services Board place Children Services Director Lorra Fuller on leave pending the outcome of a third-party study of what happened in the case of young Dylan.
The Children Services Board planned a special meeting for early Tuesday morning to discuss Fuller’s possible suspension.
According to information passed out Monday and also on the organization’s website, at age 19, 53 percent of youths who are or were in Ohio’s foster care system have not obtained a high school diploma or GED. Some 36 percent have experienced incarceration, while 26 percent experienced homelessness within the last two years. Up to 14 percent already had a child of their own to worry about.
You can visit Every Kid Deserves a Voice online at everykiddeservesavoice.org. They also have their own Facebook page.
The small group of protesters said no one from Scioto County Children Services had come out of the building to speak with them and they assumed employees likely were under orders not to speak with them.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.