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Attorney General DeWine makes child safety a priority

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WARREN, Ohio - Making sure that children are safe is a major concern to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

A rash of deaths among children, including a two-year-old beaten and burned in Cincinnati, after being returned to his biological parents, prompted a series of statewide meetings.

The Child Safety Summit took a closer look at Ohio's Foster Care System.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issues findings from a new report on the state's child welfare system.

"Part of what we're trying to do is getting everybody to look at the foster care system on days other than when they read a tragedy in the newspaper," said DeWine.

The recommendations were made by his "Foster Care Advisory Group." The group was formed and came up with solutions after hearing issues raised at eight Attorney General "Child Safety Summits" over the past year.

The executive director of Trumbull County's Children Services Agency applauds the effort and the recommendation that includes allowing foster parents to participate in the court process and provide input.

"I was happy to see and I'm sure my foster and adoptive families will be happy to see that the foster parent participation is emphasized. They have a hard job. We give them a child and say, 'Here, love them, take care of them and maybe return them to a biological family at some point," said Tim Schaffner, executive director of Trumbull County Children Services.

Another recommendation from Attorney General DeWine's "Foster Care Advisory Group" was a form of three strikes and you're out to biological parents who have had a child removed from the home three times.

Mahoning County's Interim Executive Director of Children Services, David Arnold said there's a current system already in place to protect children in cases like that.

"If the court believes and if the agency presents a substantial enough case that child would be at risk going home, there's nothing that says that kids get returned to their own homes," Arnold said.

The recommendations are one more step focused on protecting children. Directors in both Trumbull and Mahoning County agree that it's everyone's responsibility to protect children from abuse and neglect.

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