Governor Signs Adoption Protections Prompted By "Caged" Kids
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 29, 2006
COLUMBUS, OHIO--Governor Bob Taft signed a measure last Wednesday designed to better coordinate protections for children in adoptive and foster families -- especially those placed into homes with large numbers of children.
The Toledo Blade reported that, among other things, the new law requires children's services agencies to report known or suspected abuse; makes it a crime for families to withhold information about their histories with child-welfare agencies; requires special assessments of adoptive homes with five or more children; and creates a statewide adoption and child welfare information system.
The measure was written in response to the highly publicized case of Michael and Sharen Gravelle, who in March lost permanent custody of their 10 adopted children and one child they had been in the process of adopting, all of which have disabilities.
Several different agencies had placed the children in the Gravelle home, with no one agency having direct oversight over their welfare.
Last September, Huron County Sheriff's deputies and social workers removed the children from the home after being tipped off that the children were forced to sleep in wire "cages" armed with electric alarms.
The Gravelles said they needed to use strict discipline to handle the children because of their disabilities. But some of the children described their treatment as abusive, as did Michael Gravelle's adult daughter, who testified that her father sexually abused her as a child.
In February, the Gravelles were charged with 16 criminal counts of felony child endangering, eight misdemeanor counts of falsifying adoption applications, and one felony count of lying under oath when being qualified for adoption funding. Their trial is scheduled for September.
Independent licensed social worker Elaine Thompson was also charged with 16 felony counts of aiding and abetting child endangering, eight misdemeanor counts of complicity to child endangering, and eight misdemeanor counts of failure to report child abuse or neglect. Thompson approved of the wire enclosures after diagnosing many of the children with Reactive Attachment Disorder, a diagnosis that psychologists hired by the county said the children do not have. Her trial is set for October.
"Taft OKs children-services measure to track placements" (Toledo Blade)