Memorial honors children who died from abuse including 11 in 2012.

LCCS case worker Denise Greenblatt, right, and other LCCS employees hold candles during the memorial.
LCCS case worker Denise Greenblatt, right, and other LCCS employees hold candles during the memorial.

Kalib Henderson never met his father.

Jon Henderson was in California with the Navy when he was born. He was in the Navy when Kalib was taken to the hospital with injuries from being shaken.

Kalib never met his father, but Jon did meet his son, if only for a moment. He held his son for the first time when Kalib was only seven weeks old, on his death bed. Jon met Kalib when he was deciding to take him off life support.

"I really didn't even get the time to talk to him," Mr. Henderson said.

Kalib was one of 11 children who died in the past year from abuse, neglect, or street violence. The Lucas County boy died in a Michigan hospital in March 2012. No one's been charged in his death.

Every year, during Child Abuse Prevention Month, Lucas County Children Services remembers the children lost. On Friday, Kalib was among those remembered.

This year was the 14th annual child memorial. It was the 17th year Dean Sparks has run the agency, and the most children lost in a year during that time, he said. Of the 11 children who died, six of them were less than a year old.

"We've got to act," he said. "We can't lose another child."

Scores of people attended the memorial, which is normally held outside on Adams Street, but was moved indoor this year because of wind and occasional rain. The Toledo School for the Arts' student choir sang songs for the children. Candles were lit for the 11.

Many of the children died in murder-suicides with a parent or other relative. Just this week, Andrew Hassler, 11, was found hanged in a Point Place garage with his mother.

"We need people to know they have other options to suicide and murder," Mr. Sparks said.

The high death toll isn't the only thing that has Mr. Sparks worried. There are right now 100 more children than last year in foster care through the agency. Children Services is beyond capacity for babies under 2, and has had to contract out some services.

And he said his agency is seeing a "flood" of families impacted by heroin addiction.

And so Friday was to grieve for those children lost, but also for a call to action.

Mr. Sparks said something as a community must be done to curb gun violence, using as an example Keondra Hooks, the 1-year-old girl who was shot in the head in August, allegedly by gang members, while she and her sister slept on the living room floor of the apartment where they lived.

He called for Ohio legislators to approve an expansion of Medicaid, so that people in northwest Ohio had access to mental health services and substance abuse treatment.

And Mr. Sparks said that, though difficult, those who see child abuse must report it, even if the abuse is done by people they know.

But most of all, Mr. Henderson said, it comes down to a parent's choice. It's not a child's fault if a parent has difficulty.

"There's other answers if you can't handle a child," he said.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.