Janishcia Cottingham's mother says county agency 'failed her'

Director defends Job and Family Services

CINCINNATI -- The grandmother of a dead 16-month-old girl blames Hamilton County Job and Family Services for the events that led to murder charges against her daughter.  

But the director of Job and Family Services says her agency never had custody of the child, never had reason to take custody because there was no indication that the child was abused or neglected, and it was the family's decision to leave her with her mother.

The child’s mother, Janishcia Cottingham, had acute anxiety and depression and needed help, according to Cottingham’s mother, who says Job and Family Services failed her.

Cottingham, 23, stood before a judge Friday morning charged with aggravated murder. She is being held on $1 million bond.

Cottingham’s mother spoke to reporters outside the courtroom.

"She mentally snapped because she's not looking like herself right now," the mother said.

The child, named Robin, was found dead and alone Thursday in Cottingham’s apartment on Bowling Green Court in North Fairmount.

Here’s a cut from the 911 call:

Caller: "The mother said that the daughter had a nervous breakdown and just kept saying that the baby was in heaven, so we sent a couple of our maintenance people up there to just check out the apartment and the baby was in the apartment.

911 Dispatcher: “And the baby is passed away?”

Caller:  "Yes, maam."

Cottingham’s mother said in the weeks leading up to Robin's death that Cottingham brought the child to Job and Family Services, then Cottingham went for a psychological evaluation.

During that time, Robin's father, Robert Midell, had custody.

But he gave Robin back to Cottingham, saying he had too much going on in his life. He took custody of Robin after Cottingham was found sane.

"All she needed was help. She cried out for help. The state failed her. The state job and family service failed her," Cottingham’s mother said.

Moira Weir, director of Job and Family Services, told 9 On Your Side that both parents came to her agency three weeks ago asking for help in raising Robin and there was no indication the child was in a dangerous situation.

“There was no indication or nobody alleged that the child was abused or neglected, or was that even an issue that was raised,” Weir said.  “In fact, that was asked by all the members that were involved and nobody felt that child was being abused or neglected or that the parenting was being compromised.”

Weir said the agency was still in the assessment stage of their relationship with Robin's family.

“The family was very involved, very supportive, very engaged in services,” Weir said.

The family would meet at JFS and hand the child back and forth.

“It’s an emotional time for everybody,” Weir said. “Certainly, it’s a tragedy and nobody expected … there was no indication that this would be the outcome.”

Robin’s remains are at the Hamilton County Coroner's Office. The cause and manner of death should be in a few days.

Cottingham's case will go to the grand jury on Aug. 26.




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