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We have to keep trying to stop child endangerment

Often in discussing the challenges to Ohio’s Child Protective Services system, lawmakers and other officials will stress that they believe the best place for children to be is with their families. That is certainly understandable — and may be the case in many instances. But time and again we see examples that prove sometimes the best place for a child is as far away from their families as possible, at least for a little while.

In Circleville, one child is dead and another is very sick after they ingested fentanyl while in their family’s apartment. Nicholas Lee, 25, and Brianna Roush, 26, are each charged with involuntary manslaughter, attempted involuntary manslaughter, possessing and trafficking in fentanyl and two counts of child endangerment. Both Lee and Roush admitted to using and selling narcotics, but claim they don’t know how the kids got into the fentanyl, according to authorities.

In this case one child will never again be reunited with family. The other is in the care of relatives, and it is possible it could be quite some time before he or she sees Lee or Roush again, should the adults be convicted. In many other cases, there is not such tragically clear cut evidence that a child should have been removed from a home.

That is what makes the job of a child protective services worker so challenging. It would be helpful if there was not the outside pressure to behave as though removing a child from a home is to be avoided at all costs.

Of course some parents and guardians can enter recovery or otherwise turn around their dangerous behavior, and many are able to do so with a little help. Should they prove they are once again fit to be what their children need them to be, all effort should be made to keep the family together.

But we’ve got to give up the idea that the adults in a household deserve the benefit of the doubt, rather than the children deserving the benefit of our vigilance. And, we must hope for more foster families who are willing and able to give those kids a safe place to ride out their parents’ journey.

It is not an easy problem to think about, let alone solve. The death of one child in Circleville should give us renewed inspiration to keep trying.

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