Ohio agency examines group-home placements

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Child welfare workers should have known more about the background of a group home resident who has been charged in the slaying of a jogger in a central Ohio park last fall, according to a new report.

The report released Wednesday by Franklin County Children Services said it needs to better assess youths who end up in group homes. The agency also said it plans a review of al1st Ld-Writethrul its group-home placements.

The 16-year-old boy is accused of the fatal stabbing of 55-year-old Jane Juergens, who was attacked on Oct. 20 as she went for a run in a park in Blendon Township near Columbus.

The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1cpkd6s ) reported that of 125 cases studied, about 15 percent of the group-home teens had violent, aggressive or self-harming behavior. About 10 percent were recommended for further assessment to determine whether they need a higher level of care. About 14 percent of the teens were on probation with the county juvenile court.

The report said the jogger "yielded insights and opportunities for practice change in several areas."

Evaluations need to take into account the child's family and early life, the report said. The assessments should lead to better placements and services for troubled youths, not more incarceration, said Chip Spinning, the agency's executive director.

"The institutionalization of youths is not favorable long term. Ultimately, they come back to the community," he said.

The agency wants more placement options, including in the homes of foster parents who are trained and willing to care for troubled teens, so that they don't have to be placed in group homes.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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