By Ed Runyan
The Trumbull County Children Services Board, which voluntarily provided quarterly reports on its visitation policies and practices to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services since the spring, will instead give annual reports.
The board, meeting Tuesday, voted to end the quarterly reports effective Jan. 1 because they are no longer needed, said Tim Schaffner, executive director.
The agency began reporting quarterly to the state on visitation after it revised visitation guidelines one year ago.
The state asked for the revisions after the rape of a 9-month-old child at the CSB offices by child’s biological parents in early 2011. The couple videotaped the acts on a cellphone.
The parents, Cody and Felicia Beemer, have since been convicted of the rapes and sentenced to life prison terms.
Among the changes at the agency were installation of additional video monitoring equipment to ensure that every visitation room has it, banning the use of cellphones and other recording devices in visitation rooms, and addressing problems the state found with the agency’s timely reporting of information in the case files of children.
The review indicated that employees failed to include information about the Beemers’ biological daughter in her case file starting in November 2010 and continuing until October 2011.
On Tuesday, Schaffner said CSB’s Visitation Team meets regularly to discuss and monitor the implementation, improvement and application of the visitation guidelines. The agency’s Quality Assurance Department and Executive Team review the visitation guidelines and documentation of visits to ensure that they reflect agency practice and standards, Schaffner said.
“During the last five months reviewed, the agency compliance rate regarding the documentation of visits is over 95 percent,” Schaffner said.
The agency will continue to report to the state on visitation issues through its annual Performance and Quality Improvement process, Schaffner added.
The industry standard expectation for completing documentation within two weeks of a visit is 90 percent, Schaffner said, so the agency’s 95 percent mark is good, he said.
Nonetheless, board members asked why it’s not 100 percent, and Schaffner said he told them it’s because things such as employee illness can stand in the way of meeting the two-week goal.
“We keep track of it all,” Schaffner said. “If people are not compliant with the standard, we address it with a plan of correction with them.”
In other business, the board announced that Atty. Dan Letson, who served as a board member for 15 years, is leaving the board at the end of the year.
Letson said there have been challenges at the agency over the years, and he remembers not being sure during the 1998-1999 period whether he “had what it takes” to serve.
But his secretary convinced him to stick with it, and “It’s been a wonderful association for me,” he said.