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Child abuse reform bill to move ahead

The death of 10-year-old Takoda Collins of Dayton in 2019 has prompted the introduction of a reform plan by a pair of Miami Valley state lawmakers.

Hearings on the proposal, House Bill 4, started this week.

Collins was severely abused and that abuse was reported to authorities multiple times, but it was not enough to save him.

His father faces criminal charges that remain pending. The case prompted Rep. Susan Manchester, R-Waynesfield, and Rep. Phil Plummer, R- Dayton, to craft a plan designed to make sure cases of child abuse no longer fall through the cracks of the child welfare system.

“This was a situation where the system failed a child in a tremendous way,” Manchester said.

Last year a News Center 7 I-Team investigation by reporter John Bedell found documentation that multiple government agencies were aware of suspected abuse of the child, but the agencies did not share information.

The reform bill requires that sharing and even has an audit requirement to make sure agencies are working together.

“This is a lack of communication so they would report to Children’s Services and really didn’t hear any follow-up. So we’re not sure where the case is at. Is anybody held accountable? Is the child safe? It’s another layer of protection of these children,” Plummer said.

Plummer, the former Montgomery County Sheriff, said previous state law can interfere with agencies working together on cases. Now, under House Bill 4, it is not only allowed, it is required.

Also, anyone who reports a suspected case of child abuse can request to be notified when the investigation is complete and can receive an update from authorities.

Manchester, who also serves as Chair of the House Families, Aging and Human Service Committee, formally presented the bill for testimony with Plummer on Thursday and is optimistic the plan has a good chance of passing. “We just want to make sure that situations like this don’t happen again,” Manchester said.