A pair of Ohio legislators want to make sure that reports of child abuse never fall through the cracks again — a move that comes more than a year after a Dayton boy died after years of suspected abuse and multiple reports to authorities.
Republican State Reps. Susan Manchester and Phil Plummer told the House Families, Aging and Human Services Committee last week that their bill, HB No. 4, would strengthen the requirements and oversight of child abuse and neglect reports.
Under the bill, all public child-serving agencies in Ohio — including schools, daycares and many others whose workers are “mandatory reporters” — would be required to promptly report any complaints they receive regarding abuse or neglect to law enforcement, in line with the county’s approved plan, which would now have to be reviewed for possible updates every year. All such plans are already required to be on file with the state.
It would also give any reporter, mandatory or voluntary, the right to request an update on the response to their report, and notification when an investigation has closed.
The proposed changes are intended to rectify problems linked to the failure to protect 10-year-old Takoda Collins of Dayton, who authorities now say was horrifically abused for years before being found unresponsive in his home. Collins then died of his injuries in a hospital.
According to the Dayton Daily News, the police had been called to the house multiple times to check on Takoda, and the boy’s teachers and school administrators had filed multiple reports with Child Protective Services. The boy’s father ultimately filed to pull the boy from the public school and teach him at home, and no one in authority took responsibility for following up before he died in December 2019. The newspaper investigation learned that the agencies involved rarely spoke to each other.
Takoda’s father, Al-Mutahan McLean is charged with raping a child and homicide in connection with the boy’s prior abuse and death. McLean’s girlfriend, Amanda Hinze, and the girlfriend’s sister Jennifer Ebert also face charges.
In October, representatives for Takoda’s estate filed a lawsuit against the county and some Montgomery County Children Service employees, contending that their failure to protect him led to his injuries and death.