(CLEVELAND)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine held the second in a series of Child Safety Summits today in Cleveland at Cuyahoga Community College. DeWine called for a comprehensive, holistic review of the entire foster care system in this state.
"I want to use these summits to bring people together because we need to conduct a comprehensive, holistic review of the entire foster care system in this state," said Attorney General DeWine. "Too many of these children are languishing in foster care with no real hope of ever having a permanent loving home."
Representatives from foster care agencies, advocacy groups, and adoption agencies attended the summit, including Crystal Ward Allen of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, Dr. Benjamin Kearney, Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer of Berea Children's Home, Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge Kristin Sweeney, Natalie Leek-Nelson, CEO and President of Providence House, and Patricia Rideout, Director of the Department of Children and Family Services in Cuyahoga County.
The Summit discussed several issues facing the foster care system, including recent deaths of foster children after being reunified with relatives. Between 2005 and 2009, 160 Ohio children - 85 percent of them under the age of five - died from child abuse and neglect. In the U.S. Senate, DeWine authored language in the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act clarifying laws that in issues of family reunification, the best interests of the child always have to come first. This is still the law of the land in all 50 states.
"Children across Ohio are dying in the child welfare system. Ohio children, who have been abused and neglected, but have never even been in the foster care system are also dying. And then, there are the children in foster care who spend their lives in the system -- never being adopted into a safe and loving home," DeWine said.
Additional regional child safety summits will follow today's in Cleveland.
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840