Monday, January 01, 2007

2006 Year in Revew: Foster Care in Ohio

Summary of the top two news stories regarding foster care in Ohio, 2006:

1.) Marcus Fiesel:
A three-year-old autistic boy who died in foster care.

-In April 2006, Marcus was found wandering the streets of Middletown. Upon investigation of his mother, Donna Trevino's home, his bedroom walls and carpet were covered with feces and there was little food in the house. As the police took Marcus away, his mother said, "He's your problem now."

-During the weekend of Aug. 4-5, 2006, Marcus died when his foster parents, David and Liz Carroll, bound him by taping his arms behind him and left him in a closet over the weekend while they attended a reunion in KY.

-David Carroll tried repeatedly to burn the remains of Marcus' body. Liz Carroll staged an elaborate hoax, pretending Marcus had wandered off in a local park and was now missing. She involved the public in a bogus search of the park for Marcus.

-The Carroll's duplicity was uncovered when their live-in girlfriend, Amy Baker, turned them in to the authorities. What happened to Marcus inspired public outrage and led to an investigation of the Lifeway, the agency that placed the child. A task force was created to examine the role of Butler County's independent foster care board.

2.) Gravelles caging children: Michael and Sharen Gravelle reportedly took the following actions against the eleven special needs children in their care, for which they received $56,000 per year:

-Forcing some of the children to sleep in cages
-Dunking the head of a young girl with Down Syndrome into the toilet
-Forcing a boy to sleep in the bathroom for days as punishment for bed-wetting
-Hosing down children outside the house in 20-degree weather

The Gravelles lost custody of the children in March 2006, and were charged with 16 counts of felony child endangering and eight misdemeanor child endangering counts.

Not representative of most foster parents in Ohio
It is unfortunate that top two most publicized stories in the state of Ohio in 2006 were about abusive foster parents.

There are many caring foster parents in Ohio. I have met them through the Ohio Family Care Association and when I gave the keynote presentation at the statewide foster parent conference at Deer Creek, Ohio on June 24, 2006.

What needs to happen:
-Ohio database to share foster parent information. This is supposedly still in the works...

- When abuse is reported, staff must take it seriously. An 11-month-old boy named Nicholas Goodrich died on Dec. 12th after three prior abuse reports to Delaware and Franklin County. Franklin County did not investigate the abuse report because the child now resided in Delaware County... um, WTF?

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