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JFS: 18 children in Ohio died while in state custody in 2021

Causes of death not yet public
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
Posted at 6:17 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 18:21:03-04

CINCINNATI — Ohio Department of Job and Family Services data shows 18 children died while in state custody in 2021. That means a case worker was in charge of them or they were in foster care at the time of death.

Spokesperson Bill Teets said the reasons for deaths vary from car accidents to pre-existing medical conditions. He said few of these cases can be traced to child abuse.

ODJFS provided WCPO data on the number of children who died in state custody dating back to 2015.

ODJFS child deaths state custody

Overall, 128 children died in state custody from 2015 to 2021. The state says 11, or 8.6%, of deaths were in Hamilton County.

WCPO is waiting for ODJFS to provide a breakdown that shows the number in each county over those years.

ODJFS did supply the Ohio Child Fatality Review Board findings. The board was created in 2000 in an effort to prevent child deaths in the state.

The latest report states that between 2015 and 2019, 57 percent of the deaths were probably not preventable and 27 percent probably were preventable.

Indiana and Kentucky provide public access to their data in similar reports.

Indiana’s latest report contains data from the calendar year 2020. It states 22 children died due to abuse and 29 due to neglect. That state provides detailed information on each case while protecting the child’s privacy. It also explains if the child was in state custody at the time of death and if child protective service agents were actively investigating the case when the child died.

Kentucky provides the number of children killed each year due to confirmed abuse. The report contains data from 2020 and partial data from 2021. In 2020, Kentucky found that 25 children died due to confirmed abuse — 19 of those were open at the time or in foster care.

Ohio provided Hamilton County data Wednesday. ODJFS said four children died in Hamilton County due to abuse so far in 2022. Of those, three were open cases at the time.

In 2021, ODJFS said 10 children died due to substantiated abuse in Hamilton County. Four of those cases were open at the time of death.

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