Tipsters urged investigation before Vermilion Township child died

Newly released information shows social workers and at least one neighbor voiced concerns about the welfare of children in a Vermilion Township home months, even years, before an 18-month-old child died of starvation.
Emil Whitis
Dec 9, 2012

 

Isaac Brothers-Bartholomew died Nov. 6 of malnutrition, according to Erie County deputies and a coroner's report.

Erie County Job and Family Services employees never acted on previous tips from people who suspected something was amiss in the Brothers-Bartholomew household.   

Two reports — one in July 2009, the other in August 2012 — came from social workers who were tasked with monitoring the family and ensuring the children’s welfare, after children’s services had stepped out of the picture.

“The family has been missing a lot of doctor’s appointments,” an Erie County Wraparound worker told children’s services in 2009. “(The worker) also reported the children are supposed to be seeing specialists and they have been canceling or no showing the doctors. (The worker) said that the Wraparound team has not seen the children because the family keeps them upstairs during wraps.”  

The reported continued: “(The worker) is concerned because Marcus needs to see a doctor for his heart problems and feeding tube.”

When a worker from Erie County Help Me Grow showed up at the family's Risden Road home on Aug. 22, 2012, the father — James Brothers, 33 — barred the worker from seeing the children, according to a report.  The worker called Erie County Job and Family Services the following day.

“(The worker) said that dad is very controlling and doesn’t let anyone speak with anyone other than him,” the report said. “(The worker) said that they go long periods of time without seeing the family because dad cancels the appointments.”

The report went on to describe how Brothers made excuses to keep her from seeing the children.

“(The worker) said that they talked in driveway and he stated that his wife would kill him if he let them in the house the way it looks,” a report said. “(The worker) said that she has never seen any safety hazards in the home before but the family is dirty.”

To get into the house, social workers had to file a complaint with Erie County Job and Family Services. And that's exactly what they did, but it went nowhere.  

The third report, filed in August 2010, came from a worried Risden Road neighbor. The neighbor told social workers "she has not seen the children outside of the home since March 2010 and is concerned,” the report said. “(The woman) said (Brothers) has come out of the house several times and when asked about the children states that they are sick.”

All three reports were dismissed by Erie County Job and Family Services because there was not enough evidence to warrant an intervention, Erie County Job and Family Services director Karen Balconi-Ghezzi has said.

The Brothers-Bartholomew family had been investigated by Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services before, and that agency actually had an active case when the family moved to Vermilion Township about five years ago.  

The case stemmed from allegations that Brothers and his wife, Adrienne Bartholomew, 34, were not providing adequate medical care to their children, Cuyahoga County officials have said.

The case was transferred to Erie County, where social workers monitored the family for about a year before ending the matter.  

Balconi-Ghezzi's agency didn't get involved with the family again until Nov. 7, the day after Isaac died.

Four of Isaac’s siblings were later taken to Cleveland hospitals, where they were treated for malnutrition, deputies said.

The children’s grandmother served as their home healthcare nurse, and she was in the house five days a week for eight hours a day, according to deputies.

Erie County deputies are still waiting on a final autopsy report from the Lucas County Corner.

In previous interviews, Balconi-Ghezzi said Erie County Job and Family Services didn’t get a single complaint about the family between 2009 and Nov. 6, when Isaac died.

She later told the Register her agency had, in fact, received three phone calls in recent years.

Comments

Darwin's choice

Complete failure by balconi-ghezzi and JFS !

ladydye_5

This is a PRIME example of "falling thru the cracks" , "swept under the rug", "pass the buck" , "turn a blinds eye", take your pick. This is why NOONE has any confidence or trust for most government agencies.

deertracker

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

beatstreet

How in the world are you denied from doing your job (seeing the children) more than once, and the roof doesnt't cave in on this guy?????? Why would anyone under supervision be given so many opportunities to blow you off??????
Pathetic, do the job or leave it to fate.

queenjhb

Bring parents to justice and grandma ,you are shameful, you all were living off your kids,you could have at least fed the little hands that fed you, the children were not [things ] to get freebies from the government, this was a life you chose, useing kids for what? Was it worth it? You couldnt even keep your children clean? SHAME ON YOU

Good 2 B Me

I understand that ultimately the parents are at fault, but maybe it is time for someone to take this one to a higher court against JFS. This one could be a precident setter.

queenjhb

Unanounced visits to homes, no cancilations, access to home and children w/ out parent hovering about during visit, is a must for job and family services to do the job needed, so what if dad is unhappy or mom is imbarressed that house is not neat, you are receiveing so much gov. help , you dont dictate the rules here. You should ve put the kids first everytime, all the time. Even if removing them for a better life.

queenjhb

goodtobeme: you are so right, they could have prevented this in so many ways. What is the salary of heads in JFS? Is this salary [?] = to what we are getting for the money, I wonder.

Good 2 B Me

It really could have been prevented. I am beginning to wonder if the Salary is equal to the performance. When it all shakes out, maybe we will find out.

starryeyes83

The second they were denied access to see the kids.. IS when a court order should have been issued and a Deputy Sheriff show up at the house!!!

How much more Bull S*^T is there gonna be to shovel??

Maybe the State of Ohio should come in and inspect Erie county JFS records and the finances of said office!!

Maybe the same should go for Erie County Courts. Somebody's lining their pockets somewhere.

Mommy25

Is anyone listening to me now? How long have I been ranting about the laws surrounding keeping children safe? How many children have died or been beaten badly enough to make the newspaper in this area this year alone? How many of those times were child services involved or had received reports? How long have I been saying that if you start paying attention, if you start to research, you will be appalled. And you think this is bad? which it is .... but do some research on what percentage of donations for cancer research that actually go to childhood cancer. There is very little done to protect children, and all to often, nothing is done until it's too late.

SandTownBry

I agree with u 100% u hit the nail right on the head with your statement!

8ballinthesidepocket

Why were the police or sheriff's department notified and a search warrant served on these criminals. May they rot in hell!!!

SandTownBry

job n family services should have done more..but then again i rember turning someone in for the fact that they where useing there foster kids just for a check an the sad part is the women im talking about called her one foster child that was disabled her main paycheck..then to top it all off she would go to the stores n buys tons of stuff for herself and her 1 child that was hers and then rest of the kids got hand me downs or thrift store stuff.that right there really set me off i filed more then one complant with ECJFS an not once did they go check things out.an 3 months later the lady that i filed the report on was arrested for niglect an child indangerment..the only reason she got caught for that was cause someone called the cops on her.not that erie county J&FS DID anything befor hand..just shows that they get payed to sit around telling others whats right n what wronge when in all reality there the ones who needs to see whats right from wronge..i pray to god that whoever there caseworker was at the time that the reports where made about the family is held responable in some ways and hopefully they get rid of her ..but i doubt that will happen.wait in see just like the Police around here everything seems to get swept under the rug..lord forgive me for saying this and dont mean it n a bad way at all but the child is n a better place now an he dont have to suffer anymore..its time to make the parents and the caseworker suffer ..the parents more then anything.i hope they burn in H*LL

nomorebull

What a horrible situation. I say we starve the "parents" and JFS, what a bunch of pigs! I'm tired of all those people that work at JFS, every one of them are rude and to big for their britches, Fire them! Get more educated, responsible, caring individuals!

ladydye_5

I did NOT know you could tell a social worker, JFS worker or whoever that it was a "bad time" for a visit? Isn't that a RED FLAG right there? I just do NOT understand how 3 GROWN adults were all in agreement....the grandmother even went along with the plan? Guess she was getting paid good from the "kids" assistance also. I need a test and a license to drive a car, I need a background check and application to adopt a dog, I need a license to go FISHING for fun, but any IDIOT can have kids!!!!

2sense

What a gov't worker being held accountable for something

queenjhb

ladydye5 Right on , People who report alleged abuse or question what they suspect , are treated like nosy neighbors. I would love to know the salarys of JFS upper management, are we getting our moneys worth? We pay you to do everything to protect kids, Are you doing that? Show us the proof, What exactly are you doing? Are you overwhelmed? Are you not up to the task? Is it too difficult to save children? Show us what we are getting in return for your pay? C,mon dont lawyer up, we pay for that too. Use that money for some good, please respond, we need answers,What are you getting paid?

queenjhb

ladydye5 Right on , People who report alleged abuse or question what they suspect , are treated like nosy neighbors. I would love to know the salarys of JFS upper management, are we getting our moneys worth? We pay you to do everything to protect kids, Are you doing that? Show us the proof, What exactly are you doing? Are you overwhelmed? Are you not up to the task? Is it too difficult to save children? Show us what we are getting in return for your pay? C,mon dont lawyer up, we pay for that too. Use that money for some good, please respond, we need answers,What are you getting paid?

onegirlarmy

Gma should be charged too!bless these babies!