Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine hosted a Child Safety Summit in Cincinnati Friday. It was a round table discussion which included foster parents, child welfare officials, judges and prosecutors.
A number of topics were discussed including foster care, family reunification, child overmedication and the best ways of keeping children safe.
DeWine says he got an earful about the length of the children are kept in foster care. He says "Too many kids are languishing in foster care that cannot be adopted, aren't going back to their original parents and, you know, they need a life."
In the wake of the tragic death of DeMarcus Jackson child welfare providers and elected officials are asking themselves what needs to be done to improve the foster care system. Dewine says "When we make decisions about where that child is going...the child's safety, the child's welfare has to trump anything else."
DeMarcus Jackson spent most of his young life in foster care, but was killed shortly after being returned to his biological parents. An investigation of Hamilton County's Job and Family Services found the agency broke no laws, but the county prosecutor's office says there may be too much rigidity in the system.
Prosecutor's office spokeswoman Linda Wilson says the problem is too complicated for easy answers. She says, "It's important that the professionals involved-the social workers, the different service providers, the court personnel-that everyone tries to be flexible, [and] think creatively to do what's best for these kids."
Duantea Sledge was a foster child for more than ten years. He says, "If you have flexibility you understand what's really important for that particular youth and you'll have more success rate and things like that. I think that's one of the problems now is that we keep saying the thing that works for Joe will work for Marcus and that may not be the case."