Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine Puts Children First

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COMMENTARY | Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is pragmatic and compassionate. He hosted a Child Safety Summit in Cincinnati to bring together child welfare officials, judges, foster parents and prosecutors, according to Fox 19 News. Sharing information and communicating is always a good idea, but in the wake of three violent deaths while the children were under the supervision of the Jobs and Family Services agency, the meeting was a necessity.

DeWine was as outraged and sorrowful as the rest of state after learning about the death of 2-year-old Demarcus Jackson nearly two months ago. The child had lived in a caring foster home with his four siblings since he was little more than a week old.

Even though the parents had not completed the proposed substance abuse, domestic violence and parenting counseling, the court appointed Guardian Ad Litem recommended the Jackson children be returned to their biological parents. Hamilton County Job and Family Services case workers had proposed a permanent severing of parental rights but hastily pulled their objections and permitted the children to return to the home of their biological parents, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Demarcus was beaten in the abdomen and died as a result of the injuries less than two months later, according to the Enquirer. The coroner's report noted previous abuse, including lacerations and burns in the genital area. The child's father was charged with murder and is in custody awaiting trial.

The Jackson death was the third time in less than a year a young child in the Hamilton County welfare system had died from unnatural causes. A JFS case worker visited the Jackson home just a day before the death, but was told Demarcus was not at home. Had the caseworker demanded to see all the children, perhaps the physical harm the coroner noted would have been noticed and saved the toddler's life.

There is more than enough blame to go around in the Jackson case. Excuses and "just following the law" comments from Hamilton County JFS workers and those connected to the case came in droves after the preventable death captured national headlines.

DeWine led the charge for changing existing legal mandates and placing the best interests of children above all else. Hopefully the untimely deaths of the three Cincinnati children remain on the minds of lawmakers and prompt potentially life-saving changes to the child welfare system.

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