Miami County must examine Children’s Services oversight, leader says

Published: Saturday, March 09, 2019 @ 8:41 AM

            The exterior of the Miami County Children’s Services office. CONTRIBUTED
The exterior of the Miami County Children’s Services office. CONTRIBUTED

A county commissioner who once worked for Miami County Children’s Services said allegations of fraud against the agency’s now-fired director should prompt a review of oversight and a possible change in operations.

County Commission President Greg Simmons said he was shocked to hear about the allegations against June Cannon, who was with the agency for more than 20 years.

Sheriff Dave Duchak said earlier in the week that a public corruption probe was underway, looking at issues such as time worked, possible credit card misuse and mileage reimbursement irregularities.

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A search warrant was executed March 1 at the Children’s Services office at the Hobart Center for County Government in Troy. The amount of money involved in the fraud had not been finalized but would be “at least in the several thousands of dollars range,” Duchak said.

Cannon was fired Tuesday by the five-member board of county residents appointed by commissioners. John Bosse, CSB board president, said he couldn’t comment on the reasons for the firing while the investigation was pending.

No charges have been filed.

The Dayton Daily News requested Cannon’s personnel file on Wednesday, and by Friday afternoon, the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office had not provided the records.

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“I am appalled. She is put in such a position of trust,” said Simmons, who worked for Children’s Services several years ago and as commissioner was an advisory member to the five-member board.

Simmons said the board meets monthly, which isn’t enough to provide full oversight.

“I am not faulting anybody on the Children’s Services Board,” he said. “Being board-run, you have to rely on trust.”

Child welfare services in Ohio are provided by county public children services agencies. Services include child protection, foster care, adoption and independent living. The public service agencies were created by state law with the structure determined at the local level, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website.

The site reported 55 counties have the public children services agencies within the administration of the department of Job and Family Services while 33, including Miami County, have separate children’s services boards.

Simmons said he suggested to Bosse the board look at how other counties in the area operate. The administration under Job and Family Services would bring more oversight, he said.

“It is something we probably should look into,” Simmons said.

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Commissioner Jack Evans said he had talked with Teresa Brubaker, Miami County Job and Family Services director, about the options.

“I think we still need to sit down and talk to the parties,” Evans said, adding an independent board may no longer provide the level of oversight needed.

Ted Mercer, who was appointed county commissioner earlier this year, said he would like to meet with the Children’s Services Board and hear members’ input.

“I am one commissioner who would like to see more intense oversight of that department. That is not meant in a negative way to the board,” Mercer said. “We certainly don’t want something like this to happen again.”