The Systemic Failure's of Cuyahoga County Children Family Services: Through The Cracks

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To whom it may concern;

Five year old Ta’Naejah McCloud was murdered on March 17, 2017 by her mom Tequila Crump and her partner, Ursula Owens. Ta’Naejah McCloud was abused every day of her life while she was here in Cleveland, Ohio. Many calls were received by Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services; those calls were found to be unsubstantiated, and there was not enough evidence to remove her from that house of terror. 

Rayvon Owens is the biological son of Ursula Owens. He was there to witness the abuse that Ta'Naejah experienced. Ta’Naejah McCloud was beaten severely on many occasions and she deprived of food and water. She was also burned on both hands, the burns being so severe that she had to get a skin graft on both hands. Ta’Naejah lived in horror, while having an open Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services case.

Ta’Naejah was deprived of being a child, her dreams and wishes stolen from her; while she had caseworkers involved in her life, who were supposed to help her. A caseworker visited her home 8 times in 5 weeks and she still was murdered in that home. 

TaNaejah's case is just one of many in Cuyahoga County:

Jordan Rodriguez was 5 years old when he was murdered and buried in his mother's backyard.

Emiliano Terry was 3 years old when he was murdered by his mother, body found in the trash after tedious searches.

Alexandria Hamilton was murdered by her mother, dying from burns over much of her body.

Arshon Baker was 5 years old, killed by his mother, from blunt impact to his trunk, head, and extremities.

Aniya Day Garrett was 4 years old, when she died from blunt force trauma, after 14 cases of abuse were noted and turned over to case workers.

One unfortunate circumstance that all of these children share is that they all had either open cases with Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services, or one that was closed within the 12 months preceding their deaths. These children are dying in the hands of Children and Family Services. Case workers are getting away with negligent omissions and practices. The children are paying the ultimate price for their lack of effort; with their lives. Here we have a system that is set up to protect our children from abusers, yet so many children are falling through the cracks. One child is too many, and that is why we are reaching out to you today. 

Case workers working through the Cuyahoga County Child and Family Services are protected under an immunity clause granted to them in ORC 2744.02 (A)(1), due to working for a government entity. In ORC 2744.03 (A)(6), the General Assembly gives 3 circumstances that need to be examined to prove liability. These 3 circumstances are as follows:

a. the employees' acts or omissions were manifestly outside the scope of the employees' employment or official responsibilities,

b. the employees' acts or omissions were with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner;

c. civil liability is expressly imposed upon the employee by a section the revised code. Civil liability shall not be construed to exist under another section of the revised code merely because that section imposes a responsibility or mandatory duty upon an employee, because that section provides for a criminal penalty, because of a general authorization in that section that an employee may sue and be sued, or because the section uses the term "shall" in a provision pertaining to an employee.

We are asking for a modification to this section of the code. We would like a section (d) to be added, making government officials liable for the fatalities or near fatalities of children, based on their known or unknown, negligence and keeping children in situations that can impose substantial risk. We are proposing an addition to the Ohio Revised Code that will charge these social workers criminally for their failure to protect these children. 

ORC 5153.17 states, "The public children services agency shall prepare and keep written records of investigations of families, children, and foster homes, and of the care, training, and treatment afforded children, and shall prepare and keep such other records as are required by the department of job and family services. Such records shall be confidential, but, except as provided by the division (b) of section 3107.17 of the revised code, shall be open to inspection of the agency, the director of job and family services, the director of the county department of job and family services, and by other persons upon the written permission of the executive director". 

The release of these records are protected by OAC 5101; 2;33;21 (I) "Upon receiving a request for disclosure to the public regarding the findings or information about a case of child abuse or neglect which has resulted in either a child fatality or a near fatality that, as certified by a physician, placed the child in serious or critical condition, the PCSA shall prohibit disclosure of such information if it is determined by the PCSA that any of the following would occur

1.harm to the child or the child’s family.

2.jeopardize a criminal investigation or proceeding.

3.interfere with the protection of those who report child abuse or neglect."

While we understand the necessity of protecting vital information concerning children and protecting reporters of abuse, we can't help but wonder why information regarding open cases and the abuse that was reported (while excluding the reporter's information and pertinent identifying information) cannot be released upon the death of children under this state agency's care. For this reason, we are asking that an amendment be made that would allow for information regarding the conduction and handling of abuse cases, be released to not only the family, but the public as well. This would ensure that workers are handling these cases properly, knowing that their work will be under scrutiny if another child falls through their cracks. 

In the Supreme Court case, O'Toole v. Denihan, the judges concluded that social workers did not violate their immunity based on ORC 2919.22 because the code prohibits any "person" who has custody or control of a child from creating a "substantial risk to the health or safety of the child, by violating a duty of care, protection, or support". Justice O'Connor wrote "R.C 2919.22 uses the word "person" without any reference to political subdivisions or their employees. There is no indication whatsoever in the language of R.C 2919.22 that the General Assembly has abrogated the immunity provided to political subdivisions and their employees with an express imposition of liability. Again, if the General Assembly had wanted to specifically include employees of public children services agencies among the list of people potentially liable, it would have done so. Without any express imposition of liability, appellants are entitled to immunity". 

For this reason, we are asking that employees of public services agencies be added to the list of "persons" that are potentially liable in regards to endangering children. These agencies are supposed to be the voices and protectors of the children that make their way onto their desks; these agencies and case workers have the power of life and death in their pens! If there are any possibilities of risk, any patterns of abuse, or uncooperative parents/guardians, those children need to be protected and removed from their custody.

This is a nationwide problem, that we can only pray is addressed and corrected with the hopes of making these social workers more accountable, making the policies and procedures more effective, and giving our youth, with many disadvantages, a chance.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We ask that you consider helping us pass this bill, along with the suggested amendments.

Sincerely,

Sierra Giles, (216)203-3912, sierragiles1988@gmail.com

DeVinah Giles (216)682-9119, dsaunders1210@gmail.com

Children that have fallen through the cracks:

Aniya Day Garrett:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5510285/Aniya-Day-Garrett-starved-burned-beaten-death.html

Jordan Rodriguez:

http://m.cleveland19.com/story/37431135/me-rules-5-year-old-jordan-rodriguezs-death-a-homicide 

TaNaejah McCloud:

https://www.google.com/amp/embedded?v=7.21.23.21.arm64&hl=en#vgi=4176099673508465963&amp=https%253A%252F%252Farticles.cleveland.com%252Fmetro%252Findex.ssf%252F2017%252F03%252Fmother_friend_accused_of_beati.amp&ampidx=0 

Emilliano Terry:

http://m.cleveland19.com/story/20256631/medical-examiner-rules-on-cause-of-death-for-emilliano-terry

Arshon Baker & Alexandria Hamilton:

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/02/the_tragic_deaths_of_arshon_ba.html

Media Coverage:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/articles.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2018/03/activists_demand_investigation.amp

https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/oh-cuyahoga/dying-in-the-dark-ohio-records-laws-cloak-cuyahoga-co-child-death-cases-in-secrecy

http://fox8.com/2018/03/28/i-team-uncovering-more-gaps-in-system-to-protect-children/ 

http://fox8.com/2018/03/27/cuyahoga-county-executive-appoints-independent-review-panel-to-look-into-aniya-day-garrett-case/?utm_source=related_1

 Please follow this page on Facebook, This is the official page where you will find updates about these stories and what events will be taking to garner Support for this cause. Please check it out and Join the Conversation at Fb.me/nomorechildrenleftbehind 

 



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