In a perfect world, we would not need children's services. We live, however, in a fallen world where evil exists.
Sometimes, parents do unthinkable and unspeakable things to their own children. CSB is supposed to protect those children. When CSB fails to do that, it isn't just a failure, it is a tragedy.
Almost two years ago, CSB workers failed to protect an innocent baby from the evil that her parents perpetrated on her. While her birth parents have been brought to justice, one wonders if justice has been done to those who failed to protect her.
In 2010, Felicia Beemer gave birth to a baby girl who weighed only 2 pounds 2 ounces. She tested positive for barbiturates, and showed signs of nicotine withdrawal. Beemer had three other children removed from her custody, one of whom died in foster care in 2009. The father, Cody Beemer, also had a sex-offender past. The baby was removed from the Beemers' custody and placed in foster care.
At first, all visitation was supervised where a caseworker was either in the room or observing the parents through a camera. Somewhere along the way, it was decided that 15-minute checks were sufficient.
On April 27, 2011, Cody and Felicia Beemer raped the baby and recorded the acts on a cellphone camera during a supervised visit at Trumbull County Children's Services. The video was later discovered on the phone by the child's grandmother and turned over to Warren police.
According to an investigation by the state's Department of Job and Family Services, records in this case were backdated 11 months and details of what happened during visits were made up. For this and for other deficient record keeping in a total of 21 cases, caseworker supervisor Robin Moon was suspended without pay for 30 days.
A grand jury declined to indict anyone from the agency after BCI investigated.
I have worked in social services for over 20 years. I own a small agency that provides residential and day services for adults with developmental disabilities. One of the first things I learned is the importance of accurate and timely documentation. People who work in the social services field know this. Decisions are made or should be made based on these records, and they may be used in court.
I have to wonder that since documentation was so shoddy how the decision was even made to make the supervision every 15 minutes.
Once that decision was made, it doesn't seem to have been followed. In one instance, according to the BCI investigation, there appeared to have been 45 minutes passed between checks. Would any of the employees of CSB leave their own children with a sex-offender for 45 minutes?
During the BCI investigation, some employee mentioned that there was concern over this case prior to the rape because Felicia Beemer's older daughter had been killed by her foster mother. It was suggested that perhaps she was treated with more sympathy and given special treatment because of the earlier death.
The death of the older girl should have made these workers focus on the well being of this child, not the child's mother who had already proven over and over that she was not fit to be a parent. If true, their misplaced sympathy contributed to this crime.
The CSB executive director at the time that this happened, Nick Kerosky, was forced to resign, and Tim Schaffner is now director. He has made some changes that are encouraging. They now have a visitation coordinator, cameras in the visitation rooms and restrictions on cellphone use in the rooms. He also says that they are now placing a greater emphasis on documentation. He has stated that a sex offender will never be allowed to be unsupervised in any way.
These are all good; however, some concerns persist about some of his other statements. First, he said terminating the employees would not hold up.
It sends an ugly message to the employees of CSB that they can make whatever mistake possible and still retain their jobs.
Mr. Schaffner also stated that the supervision in this case was proper and that the workers did checks every 15 minutes. Has he looked at the BCI report that stated otherwise? Also, if the supervision was proper, why do all sex offender parents now have eyes-on supervision at all times?
Unless Mr. Schaffner recognizes and addresses the ineptitude and excuse-making in his agency, it is just a matter of time before we have another tragedy.
Yoder is a West Farmington resident. Email her at editorial@tribtoday .com.