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Trumbull children services director: Employees have 'fire in their belly' to help kids



Published: Fri, March 8, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.

Schaffner points out some misconceptions

By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

A week after damaging details of a police investigation at the agency were released, the head of Trumbull County Children Services stood with most of his 150 employees and said they “work every day with fire in their belly” to help kids.

Tim Schaffner, executive director, said he took the unusual step of giving the 15-minute “State of The Agency” news conference with the employees to make the public understand more about the dedication of people at the agency.

“I’ve asked these poor people to stand with me today because this is children services, this is your neighbors and your friends, and they bring their kids to your school and they go to your churches and they come here every day and they keep kids safe,” said Schaffner, who became director April 17, 2012.

A week ago, The Vindicator reported on the results of an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation that showed deceit by a supervisor regarding documentation involving a child who was raped by her biological parents during a supervised visit.

The investigator also questioned several employees regarding the reasons why the victim’s father, who was found guilty of a sex offense as a 14-year-old, was allowed in the room unsupervised with the child.

No charges against employees resulted from the investigation, but the father and mother were both convicted of rape and sent to prison.

Schaffner said an investigation by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services found no fault with the agency for the supervision it gave to the April 2011 visit that resulted in the rapes.

But the agency no longer allows a parent with a history of sexual abuse to have alone time with a child during a visitation, Schaffner said. Those visits involve staff watching the entire visitation.

Schaffner said he’s still a relative newcomer to child-protective services, despite his 38 years in the counseling and mental-health field. He said he wants others to know some of the “who knew?” things he’s learned over a year.

For example, in 80 percent of child-abuse cases, the child remains in his or her own home.

“We’re not the agency that comes to your house to take your kids,” he said. “We’re the agency that comes and helps you take care of your kids when they’re going through rough times.”

Another misconception is that a caseworker handles a child-abuse case alone from start to finish, Schaffner said.

“We have incredible specialities in our investigative team, our assessment team, those folks that work with kids in out-of-home placement, ongoing work with our foster parents,” he said.

“I was shocked the first time I went to a meeting about adoption of kids, and there were 12 people in the room, and they all knew the kid, they all had an opinion, and they all had a relationship with the child and the adoptive parents,” he said.

But the agency needs to do a better job of explaining what it does, Schaffner said.

“We need to enhance the community’s understanding of what we do and why. We’ve got to help you understand why we open a case sometimes, why we don’t open a case sometimes.

“When a school makes a referral, what exactly are we going to do next? When a neighbor makes a referral, what are we going to do next? How does this work?”

To that end, the agency intends to add more information to its website in the coming days at www.trumbullcsb.com, Schaffner said.

Another supervisor at the agency, Marilyn Pape, manager of out-of-home care and a 27-year employee, said she wishes the public could see the dedication of children-services workers.

“I wish you could see what I see every day,” Pape said. “I wish you could see how staff come to work every day knowing that when they are here, they will see things that are incomprehensible to most people.

“I wish you could see how hard they fight to keep families together, to reunify children with loving families, to create permanency for children.”

Schaffner said he hopes also to educate the public regarding the amount of damage child abuse does in our society.

“Fifty-two percent or more or the public have had experience with sexual or emotional abuse, domestic violence, living with mental illness or substance abuse, and it has long-term effects on people,” he said.


Comments

1lovedrama(138 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

That's all great. it's a job-do it. Still absolutely NO excuse for what happened in the Cody Beemer case. SUPERVISION---tax dollars pay for it.

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2lovingmom(5 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

I have to agree that there are some wonderful caseworkers at CSB who truly care about kids, BUT Marilyn Pape is the PROBLEM! Anyone who dares to disagree face repercussions or are no longer there. Then you have misguided Tim Shafner who only gets the information that MARILYN wants him to know.They may have put new security measures in place, but the attitude has not changed.As long as Marilyn Pape is there nothing will change. She has no respect for anyone but herself!

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3211(1 comment)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

To the adoptive family of this little girl. Thank you for your courage and coming out with your story. Nothing will improve if we keep ignoring what is happening to the children.Failure to the children in care is epidemic.We read every day about the unthinkable acts against children. We need a solution. It is evident that what is being done isn't working.

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4walter_sobchak(1912 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

When I read this article, my blood immediately boiled. To call the workers "poor people" as if they live in Haiti or were just devastated by a natural disaster is insulting to the public. These peopel are charged with protecting children who have been reportedly sybject to abuse or neglect. Shafner is trying to pull the wool over our eyes so that we can't see what is actually going on. There is absolutely no excuse at all for a child being raped on their property. Add to the fact that the father has a sex offense from when he was 14 and the situation calls for head to roll. But, no, sweep it under the rug and talk about the workers as if they are all Mother Teresa working the streets of Calcutta.

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5DwightK(1256 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

So what's been done to ensure no other children in the agency's care are harmed? Have the cameras been fixed? Are caseworkers now writing up their visitation notes as required? Are supervised visits being supervised?

What's changed exactly?

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6mamasita(5 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

This is all about PR there is a levy coming up!

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7dawn421(265 comments)posted 1 year, 6 months ago

my butt!!!!! you people need to get on the ass of the ones that actually abuse the kids and not look away i was involved with csb and i reported a lady answering the phone one weekend that seemed to be drunk or high. i was told that she was on meds. well hello, she shouldnt have been there!!!!!!!!

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