COLUMBUS – The Ohio House of Representatives today approved House Bill 4, legislation sponsored by State Reps. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) and Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) that provides more accountability and oversight to child abuse reporting.
Plummer and Manchester noted the case of 10-year-old Takoda Collins, who tragically died in 2019 after years of child abuse. According to records from the Montgomery County Dispatch Center, a Dayton Public School employee reported their concerns of abuse in 2018.
“This bill will protect our vulnerable children and encourage more collaboration in getting them the help they need in order to prevent tragedies like this from happening again,” said Plummer.
Under current law, each public children services agency (PCSA) is required to prepare a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that outlines their standard terms and policies regarding cases of child abuse or neglect.
House Bill 4 expands on current law by requiring an MOU to include language which specifies that Ohio law requires a PCSA to disclose confidential information discovered during a child abuse or neglect investigation to any federal, state, or local government entity.
To better ensure cases are handled and resolved, House Bill 4 requires cross reporting from public children services and law enforcement, as well as a written notice of a receipt of report or close of an investigation.
An amendment was added during the committee process that creates the Children Service Ombudsman Program to investigate and resolve concerns and complaints from and on behalf of children and families.
“We believe having more people collaboratively working on the case can help improve the outcome for the child,” said Manchester. “This bill provides another layer of protection for our youth at-risk.”
The bill passed with a vote of 88-1 and now awaits consideration in the Senate.