JFS director speaks out after toddler death - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

JFS director speaks out after toddler death

Glenara Bates. (Provided photo) Glenara Bates. (Provided photo)
“It's devastating for all of us,” said Moira Weir, the Director of the Hamilton County Department of Jobs and Family Services, who is speaking publicly for the first time since Glenara's death in March. (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Amy Wagner) “It's devastating for all of us,” said Moira Weir, the Director of the Hamilton County Department of Jobs and Family Services, who is speaking publicly for the first time since Glenara's death in March. (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Amy Wagner)
CINCINNATI (FOX19) -

When 2-year-old Glenara Bates' tiny, lifeless body was taken to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, she weighed only half the weight of a normal child her age.

Her body was covered with wounds too numerous for the coroner to even count.

“It's devastating for all of us,” said Moira Weir, the Director of the Hamilton County Department of Jobs and Family Services, who is speaking publicly for the first time since Glenara's death in March.

“I think this is a good chance for us to talk about how can we as a community come together and meet the needs of the children in this community,” said Weir.

In Glenara's case, she had been taken from her mother, Andrea Bradley's care in February of 2013. Glenara's siblings had also been previously removed from the home.

Records obtained from JFS cited a history of abuse by Bradley and mental illness. But in August of 2013, the children were reunified with their mom, who lived with Glenara's father, Glen Bates.

Just over six months later Glenara was dead. The Hamilton County coroner reported she had been tortured and severely malnourished.

In the wake of Glenara's death, county leaders are calling for change.

"It's that egregious of a case that we have to do something about it,” said Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann.

In 1977, there were less than 15,000 children in custody in Ohio. Today, there are 17,000 children in the system in Hamilton County alone.

“It's a daunting number. It's a very challenging number,” Weir responded.

And then there's the issue of reunification. Protocol requires JFS workers do their best to reunite families.

In Glenara's case, her mom regained custody after she completed a substance abuse program, parenting education course and had clean mental health and drug screenings. Weir herself admits caseworkers, who have since left the agency, didn't follow proper protocol.

But the question remains: Should children ever be reunited with parents like Andrea Bradley?

“There is always going to be a certain percent of the population that will never be able to parent a child despite our best efforts,” Weir said.

[From Child Welfare and Information Gateway: What evidence shows about family reunification]

Glenara Bates' life is a horrible reminder of what could happen when the system fails.

"I think the community needs to decide what's right,” Weir said regarding the issue of reunification.

Andrea Bradley and Glen Bates are facing the death penalty for Glenara's death.

Meanwhile, results from the independent investigation into her death are expected in the next month.

[From Child Welfare and Information Gateway: Determining the Best Interests of the Child]

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