One day after the release of a state report highly critical of her department’s handling of the death of an unidentified local infant, the Board of Directors for Scioto County Children’s Services placed agency director Lorra Fuller on administrative leave.
Temporarily, David Huddleston will take Fuller’s position. After that, Lowell Howard will take over as acting director.
The SCCS board met in executive session for most of Thursday, following the regular meeting. With one board member voting against going into a closed-door meeting, the board entered an executive session. The SCCS board plans another meeting Oct. 29.
The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services released what it called a “child fatality administrative case review final report” involving SCCS.
The 27-page report, which includes a roughly four-page response from Fuller, focuses on the death of a child, an incident that apparently occurred over the summer. According to ODJFS Director of Communications Bret Crowe. The report repeatedly refers to deceased infant as the “target child.”
Some Ohio media outlets labeled the target child as Dylan Groves, whose infant body was found at the bottom of a well near the home of his parents, both of whom are now famously on trial for aggravated murder.
A one-page summary of the report concludes in part, “based on the findings of the review, SCCS was found to be out of compliance with the Ohio Administrative Code. Given the serious nature of the findings and the factors contributing to noncompliance, SCCS will be required to submit a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) detailing the steps the agency will take to improve upon practice.”
ODJFS states SCCS needs reminding when initial attempts at contact fail, state law requires agencies such as SCCS to continue to attempt to make contact at least every five working days until such contact is achieved. Partly because of the significant reductions in public copies of the report, it is unclear if the local agency met that standard in Dylan’s case.
The report states in part at some point a caseworker did make contact with Dylan and both parents at an unidentified hospital. But, ODJFS adds: “There was no documentation in the activity logs regarding the caseworker’s observations of the newborn; however, there was documentation the caseworker discussed the (redaction) allegations with the parents.”
The report does state the agency adhered to state law regarding intake information related to the target child’s exposure to illegal substances.
ODJFS complains the FTM did not include any discussion regarding reunification plans for Dylan, and his parents. Investigators contend the manner in which SCCS conducted the FTM was not in line with its own policies.
“I regret that I am having to respond to a child fatality review report as this means a child in our care had died,” Fuller states in the opening sentence of her response to the ODJFS report.
Fuller goes on to contend her social workers are tremendously overworked and carry excessively large caseloads.
“Finally, having a child die that is in the care of the child welfare agency is unacceptable and everyone enter agency is well aware of this fact,” Fuller writes in part of her conclusion. “All our lives are forever changed as being a part of this tragedy.”