Friday, May 23, 2014
For many Ohio children placed in a legal guardian’s care, court oversight ends as soon as it begins. Once guardianship is established, most probate courts are unaware as to where the children live, they do not track where they go to school, and they do not know whether or not they are safe. Many of Ohio’s probate courts never check on the child’s well being, in turn exposing them to possible financial exploitation.
The process of setting up a guardianship is much less restrictive than adopting a child, which carries similar responsibilities but more safeguards. Angela Plummer, executive director of a nonprofit organization that helps immigrant children settle with families in Ohio says, “There ought to be more accountability….It would only be good for the kids.”
A recent investigation by Dispatch found many discrepancies existing in the system. For example, when a child has an estate, the court requires an annual accounting of expenditures. The guardian needs permission from the court to spend money from the minor’s accounts. However, in 52 out of 401 cases reviewed, the court admonished guardians for not filing the proper paperwork documenting a child’s finances. In two cases, mothers were removed as guardians for misspending the children’s money.
See Lucas Sullivan, Mike Wagner, Jill Riepenhoff, and Josh Jarman, Children With Guardians Often Forgotten By The Courts, The Columbus Dispatch, May 21, 2014.