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Punishment for Failure to Steal

December 30, 2006 permalink

No social worker has been prosecuted, or as far as we know, even reprimanded, for causing the death of a child in her care. But what about the other kind of problem, failing to take enough children?

In the case below, the social services system exploits the tragic death of a boy to inflict fear within its ranks. Taking a child that is harmed within the foster care system has no consequences, but failing to take a child can cost you your job.



Manager fired in baby’s death

Supervisor in Delaware had been alerted to possible abuse

Lee Hayes

DELAWARE, Ohio — Delaware County officials fired a Children Services supervisor yesterday for ignoring a phone call about suspected abuse of an 11-month-old boy who later died.

After an internal review, the county commissioners decided that Lee Hayes’ inaction warranted ending her job as intake supervisor.

The review focused on two anonymous calls made to Children Services workers in November regarding possible mistreatment of infant Nicholas Goodrich. The boy died Dec. 12, and his mother’s boyfriend is accused of killing him.

State and local officials are investigating how Delaware and Franklin counties’ child-welfare agencies handled complaints about Nicholas’ care before his death. Franklin County Children Services yesterday confirmed receiving three calls about the boy as well.

Hayes’ office in Delaware County forwarded the first call about Nicholas to Franklin County authorities after tracing the boy’s mother to a Columbus address through welfare records.

But when the same caller followed up a week later, saying the mother and child had moved to Delaware, Hayes ignored the tip, Commissioner Jim Ward said.

That complaint should have been investigated immediately, he said.

Hayes "was the supervisor, and it was her responsibility that this sort of thing should never have happened," Ward said. "She did not handle things correctly."

Within weeks of the reported abuse, Nicholas died of severe brain injuries. His mother, Rachel Ewers, 22, of Delaware, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, and her live-in boyfriend, Raytone Wilson, 21, is charged with aggravated murder.

A baby sitter said she called Children Services workers in both counties with her suspicions of abuse before the boy died.

Ward said it remains unclear why Hayes did not respond after her office learned that Ewers was living in Delaware County.

Ewers and her son lived in Franklin County before moving to Delaware.

Hayes, 44, was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday. Her firing is effective today.

Hayes oversaw employees who receive calls and investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect. She has worked for the Delaware County Department of Job and Family Services since 1992, and served as a supervisor since 1998.

Her personnel records show praise for her overall performance and no previous disciplinary problems.

Hayes’ attorney, Tony Heald, said his client will consider appealing the commissioners’ decision to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.

Meanwhile, how the case was handled by child-welfare officials in both counties remains under review by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Franklin County Children Services also is conducting its own review of three calls it received regarding Nicholas, as well as the referral from Delaware County, said Eric Fenner, the agency’s deputy director.

"We are doing a very thorough, comprehensive review of that entire episode," Fenner said. "We want to find out exactly what happened and how it was handled."

Referrals of families who recently moved can sometimes lead to confusion between agencies, Fenner said.

Mona Reilly, director of the Delaware County Department of Job and Family Services, said her agency continues to review its policies and procedures and likely will hire an outside firm for further evaluation.

"We feel this is a very tragic occurrence for all involved," Reilly said. "It is our job as a Children Services protective agency to respond to children that are in need and protect them, and we will continue to do our best effort in that regard."

Information on Nicholas’ suspected abuse was given to Hayes last month almost immediately after one of her employees took the second call, Reilly said.

As intake supervisor, it was up to Hayes to review the complaint and determine whether it required investigation, Reilly said.

"We don’t really have a clear picture as to why she did not respond," Reilly said.

Commissioner Kris Jordan said the internal review revealed Hayes’ awareness of the situation.

"We found that there were things that weren’t done and, unfortunately, that leads to us having to fire somebody," Jordan said. "They should’ve sent somebody out to visit the home and assess the complaint."

Source: Columbus Dispatch