World-class new director for child welfare agency needed in Huron County

Date: 2007-04-15

The search for Dumbeck's successor needs to focus on finding an experienced child welfare executive who is clear-sighted, tough-minded, on top of things and demands answers, not excuses.

Most of all, the new director must be someone who is appalled by the outrages that befell the "caged kids" of Michael and Sharen Gravelle and the killing of 11-year-old Connre Dixon by her foster father.

That means someone who won't, like Dumbeck, consider Connre Dixon's placement "successful" or tell the world, like Dumbeck, that the staff had "superbly" with the Gravelles, despite knowing about the kids' cage-like beds for two years before taking action.

The new director must be someone who measures success and excellence by the well-being of the children the agency handles. Success is not simply having all the forms filled out, check-off boxes marked and paperwork filed.

All of these requirements should be met by anyone working in child welfare anywhere, not just in Huron County. But by virtue of the extensive media coverage of the "caged kids" tragedy, Huron County is known around the world for failing the children in its care.

What Huron County must do now to redeem its name, and most especially to better serve the children in its care, is to find a world-class replacement for Dumbeck. Use outside expertise to identify the best person. Then, give the new director free rein to shake the operation as hard as needed to make it work right for the children whose lives are in its hands.

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