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Published: Wednesday, 5/9/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Children Services revises policies

Local abuse case prompts move

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dean Sparks of Children Services says a call about welts on two children was mishandled. Dean Sparks of Children Services says a call about welts on two children was mishandled.
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Policy changes are coming to Lucas County Children Services after it was discovered that a caseworker didn't receive information about a child abuse complaint before visiting a family and then waited at least a week to investigate the claim.

"We're putting procedures in place to make sure this doesn't happen again," said Children Services Executive Director Dean Sparks.

In July, 2010, the agency received a phone call reporting that two children in the care of Joshua and Courtney Waxler had welts on their bodies.

The Waxlers, both 24, of 2253 Seaman St., were charged with child endangering and were arrested May 2 on charges of assaulting their two adopted daughters, ages 3 and 5.

The assault reportedly was documented on video on a family member's cell phone.

The couple are to appear in Toledo Municipal Court Thursday for a preliminary hearing. Each posted a surety bond of $100,000 on May 3.

Police have accused Mr. Waxler of repeatedly hitting the 3-year-old girl with a shoe and swearing at her.

Police also allege that Mrs. Waxler choked the child and threw her to the ground.

The Waxlers officially adopted the two girls in May, 2011, 10 months after the abuse complaint.

Mr. Sparks said the abuse complaint was not looked at during adoption proceedings.

"Would this have prohibited the adoption? I don't know," Mr. Sparks said. "If we confirmed they had been abused, it would have been a problem for the adoption."

The Waxlers have three biological children who are now with other family members; the two adopted girls, who were in foster care after being taken from the Waxlers, are now with family members, Children Services spokesman Julie Malkin said Tuesday.

Mr. Sparks said he plans to talk to his staff today to inform them of the policy changes.

In July, 2010, the agency received a phone call complaining that a caseworker had said the two girls had welts on their bodies.

By coincidence, a caseworker was at the family's East Toledo home that day but was not aware of the complaint until she returned from the house visit, Mr. Sparks said.

Mr. Sparks also said the caseworker told him she never said the children had welts and did not go back to the home until at least a week later to look at the children.

"That was wrong," Mr. Sparks said. "She should have gone back out and examined the kids."

He added that when a caseworker is at a home, the worker sees the children but does not inspect them.

One policy change will require that, upon receiving information about possible abuse, caseworkers look into the claim in 24 hours by going to the home, Mr. Sparks said.

Part of the problem, Mr. Sparks said, was that the complaint was classified as informational and not as an abuse complaint. Had it been otherwise classified, it's likely that the caseworker would have known about the complaint before the home visit. New policy dictates that the call taker, before classifying a call, must have a supervisor review the information.

Mr. Sparks said that "it's hard to discipline somebody" because the information is from two years ago and one of the people involved has retired and another is no longer in the same position.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @tdungjen_Blade.



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