The agency, which is tasked with rescuing children from harm, admits that 10 children died as a result of gun violence.

Columbus, Ohio – Since 2015, 20 children have died under the care and custody of the Franklin County Children’s Service.

The agency, which is tasked with rescuing children from harm, admits that 10 children died as a result of gun violence.

One child died from an overdose, another from a car accident, and in several cases the culprits were congenital or premature health problems. The cause of several deaths remains unclear, the agency said.

A series of investigations of four parts 10 Explores found that these deaths were only part of the problems in the foster family system.

What happens when a foster child gets into an incident that kills someone else? Join the second part of our series of 10 investigations on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Our reports also revealed other tragic events and found families who still doubt what level of protection the foster family system actually provided.

Compared to the national average, Ohio sends more children to foster homes with strangers than related relatives. The state also lags behind the national average when it comes to family reunification, according to a Child Trends report.

As part of our reports, 10 investigators reviewed court records, police ran to foster homes and the Franklin County Children’s Reception Center, Medicaid dollars to reimburse behavioral treatment centers and spoke to family members of deceased children.

We also spoke directly with the FCCS and other advocates for children’s services, who told 10 Investigates that their workload is becoming more complex due to additional referrals from juvenile courts and children in need of behavioral or mental treatment.

In a 30-minute interview with Laura LaRoche, director of child care at Franklin County Children’s Service, chief reporter Bennett Heberle asked her directly:

What role does the county play in this when children die or take another life?

LaRoche said, “We play a role. Our community plays a role, right? Children are a product of our community. And we are all responsible for the health and well-being of all the families in our community. ”

But for people like Tony Howard, whose grandson died while in custody at Franklin County Children’s Service in 2020, she doubts the agency did anything to protect him.

Her grandson, Davan Lewis-Taylor, died in late September 2020. He was fatally shot on the north side of Columbus.

Tony and her husband Lit helped raise Davan after his mother died of an alleged overdose a few years ago. After her death, Tony said she noticed a change in Davon’s behavior. A domestic incident at home brought him to juvenile court.

Tony told 10 Investigates that she was initially unaware that the FCCS had taken him into custody and placed him in Maryhaven, an institution that no longer provides inpatient behavioral treatment for teens.

After a two-week stay there, Dawn fled after being attacked by another teenager, Tony said. A few months after his death, Maryhaven stopped his behavioral hospital program for youth, which he said was being worked on before Davan’s death.

“After he was killed, I contacted (FCCS). They immediately went out, took out his things, said they could not help with the funeral expenses, and then I received a letter stating that the case was closed, ”Howard said. «[Children] services did not go out to look for him. They came to our house and said they had no time to look for the missing children. When Down calls, tell him to give up or you can hand him over.

The FCCS disputes this, informing 10 Investigates that it is looking for missing children.

In late October 2020, almost a month after Dawn’s death, Tony Howard revealed a 10 Investigates letter she received from the FCCS stating that “your case is closed”.

The letter went on to say: “Although this agency no longer needs security services, the following services are recommended: please contact me if you need anything else in the future. Once again, I am very sorry for your loss. “

Tony told 10 Investigates: “And what do they defend so that this paragraph says“ no need in security services ”? They did not protect him. ”

Down was killed six months ago Ma’Hia Bryant. They are among the latest deaths related to those detained by the agency.

Last spring, Ma’Hia’s death drew national attention in part because she was fatally shot dead by a Columbus police officer the same day jurors returned a sentence to Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

Earlier this year, the Franklin County Grand Jury refused to charge police officer Nick Reardan – Columbus police officer Nick Reardan had no plausible reason to believe the crime had taken place.

The video from the camera shows how he reacts to the scene to detect a fight involving several people. The video shows Ma’Hia Bryant holding a knife and appearing to be rushing near the woman when her officer shot her four times.

Ma’Hiya was removed from her mother’s home several years earlier after a complaint was filed with the FCCS raising concerns about Ma’Hiya and her siblings, her mother Paul Bryant admitted in a recent interview.

But Paula Bryant says she is keen to reunite her family, and raises questions about the agency’s decisions.

“The system let my daughter down, the system let other children down. And the system needs to be reformed, ”Paula Bryant said.

An inspection of 10 investigations of police documents at the reception house on Legion Lane, where Ma’Hia was staying, revealed at least 29 police raids – more than half of which were reports of missing persons. Others were behind the problems, including attacks and fights.

Less than a month before her death, Sister Ma’Hia called police to say she had joined the fight and no longer wanted to be in the foster home.

10 Investigates asked FCCS Admissions Director Laura LaRoche about this:

When placing children in foster care with active police, people who do not know social work will look at it and say, “It doesn’t seem right.” So why is this happening?

LaRoche said, “Well, let me give examples that add context. Why will the police react to the foster family? ”

She further explained that foster homes and institutions are required to call the police if a child runs away.

“Young people fall under our care, feel such behavior, or is it reasonable to believe that this behavior will stop through the act of guardianship of the agency? No, ”LaRoche said.

Howard said her family is disappointed.

“It’s sad,” she said. “So who is responsible? Or they label them as a number, a troubled child or “well done”. This is the life you took ownership of … So what’s going on? ”

Asked what the FCCS would say to the families of those killed in the care, LaRoche said: “We grieve with you …”

10 The investigation is not reported. In the coming days you will hear more from our conversation with the Franklin County Children’s Service.

And later in the week, we’ll look at what role the so-called “troubled teen industry” plays in this and possible solutions from those in charge.

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