Montgomery County Children Services responds to DeWine agency review order

Montgomery County Children Services responds to DeWine agency review order

UPDATE @ 9:49 p.m.: Montgomery County Children Services tonight issued the following statement in reaction to Gov. DeWine calling for a review of the agency after receiving notice Wednesday about an infant fatality:

“We welcome the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to conduct a review of our alternative response process and procedures, and look forward to partnering with them as they examine our operations,” Michelle Niedermier, agency director, said.

Children Services case files are confidential under Ohio law, agency spokesman Kevin LaVoie said.

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INITIAL REPORT

Following an infant death reported to the governor on Wednesday, Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the state to review all “alternative response” cases handled by Montgomery County Children Services over the past six months.

DeWine said the baby’s death held similarities to the death of 10-year-old Takoda Collins on Dec. 13 after his alternative response case was closed by Montgomery County, our news partner, the Dayton Daily News, reports.

The name, sex, day of death and hometown of the infant was not immediately available.

“It’s our obligation to ensure that Ohio’s children have the best possible chance to grow up in a safe and healthy environment. We must ensure that our county children services agencies are keeping that promise,” DeWine said in a written statement.

“By initiating this review, we are working to ensure the safety of our children and that those charged with protecting them have the resources they need.”

A technical assistance team from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is to conduct a review in partnership with Montgomery County Children Services, according to the governor’s office.

Since 2010, Ohio’s child protection agencies have had two options — traditional and alternative — to respond to reports of child abuse and neglect. An alternative response can be used when a report doesn’t allege serious or imminent harm.

Alternative responses do not involve the court system. Instead, caseworkers work with families to deliver services needed to keep the children safe. A safety and risk assessment must be completed in alternative response cases.

Takoda Collins was allegedly tortured, abused and locked in an attic before he died. Law enforcement records show police were at Takoda’s home more than 10 times since his father brought him here.

Dayton Public Schools officials report that they reported abuse and neglect concerns to Montgomery County Children Services, roughly 15 times.

Takoda’s mother called police seven months before his death to report suspected abuse. Takoda’s father, Al McLean, gained full custody of the boy in October 2013, despite a criminal record that included assaults.

McLean is currently in the Montgomery County Jail, accused of raping, abusing and neglecting the boy. Also facing neglect charges are McLean’s girlfriend and her sister.