While there is no law that specifies when a child is old enough to be left alone or to watch other children, there are a few guidelines that may be helpful:
A. Make sure that when a child is left alone or babysitting, they can reach the parent or another responsible adult at all times, no matter what their age.
B. The American Red Cross accepts children eleven (11) years of age and older for their babysitting classes.
C. Infants and toddlers need to be monitored at all times.
D. Ensure that emergency numbers are accessible and that whomever is staying with a child knows the address of where they are.
If there is an incident at the home and the police are contacted, they must decide whether or not to charge a parent criminally. If we are notified, we may assess the situation and will work with you to determine if your children were or are unsafe.
In general, Children Services does not intervene in private custody proceedings. If there are allegations of abuse or neglect, Children Services will assess the situation, but we cannot alter court orders. If you have questions about custody or visitation contact your attorney. If Children Services determines that a child is at risk in his or her home environment, steps will be taken to protect the child. We do not have the legal authority to assist you in situations where your child is not returned to you “on-time” from a visit or not brought to you for your visit. These are considered private civil matters.
Any citizen with concerns of possible abuse or neglect may report these concerns to Children Services or Law Enforcement. However, Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 2151.421 spells out who must report possible child abuse and neglect. If you have questions, click here to see ORC Section 2151.421 or contact the agency for more information.
A person can be charged for reporting a known false allegation to Children Services. This is a misdemeanor in the first degree and punishable by fines and jail time as determined by the courts. When we have reason to believe that this has occurred, we provide our information to the office of the Law Director, and refer the case to law Enforcement.
While you may feel that you can pinpoint who a reporter may be, the law protects the confidentially of a reporter. Therefore a Children Services worker CANNOT reveal, confirm or deny who a reporter of any allegations may be. This is both state and federal law. For a copy of our PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY POLICY, please click here.
There are no consequences when the report is made in good faith. If you believe a child is being or has been harmed due to abuse or neglect, please contact us with as much information as possible, so that we may make the best decision possible. It is however a criminal offense to knowingly make a false report of child abuse or neglect. When GCCS believes it has received a false report, we will refer the matter to law enforcement and the city/county prosecutor as appropriate. A reporter must have a reasonable belief that child abuse or neglect is or has happened.
Unfortunately, yes. While there are laws that determine what restrictions will be placed on a sexual offender based on the type of crime of which he or she is convicted, including the distance he or she may live from an entrance to a school (generally 1000 feet), there is generally nothing that prohibits a convicted sexual offender from living with children. Sometimes, while on parole the convicted sexual offender may not have contact with his or her victim, sometimes with other children.
While children services is concerned about this issue, we can not generally investigate a case based on a report that a sexual offender has moved in to a home with children. We encourage ALL parents to Choose Their Partner Carefully. For more information, check out the Support and Information page.
There are many reasons a call may not be assigned to a GCCS Staff member for assessment or investigation.
First, the child must live with a parent/guardian or custodian that is a resident of Guernsey County. We sometimes receive calls about children on visitation with parents in our county who are residents of another county, these calls are referred to the proper county or state for their review. We do assist these counties/states but they must request our intervention.
This does not mean we do not intervene in true emergencies where children cannot be made safe before another agency can intervene. In these rare cases we can and will act and work with the proper authorities after the child has been made safe.
Second, there is a balance between the rights of parents/families from unwarranted state intervention into their lives and the protection of children. We also must follow the United States Constitution, and other Federal, State Laws and also the rules as established by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Third, while citizens should call whenever they have concerns about a child, we also must sort out what is potentially unsafe parenting versus the normal cultural differences or personal preferences regarding parenting that arise within communities. For example, there are strong beliefs regarding spanking of children where some persons believe that spanking is permissible as a method of discipline, and some believe that spanking is damaging to them. While the research on this issue is as varied as the beliefs, we must follow Ohio Law, which presently does allow parents to utilize corporal punishment (physical discipline). While the use of corporal punishment also has some restrictions under Ohio Law, a parent, guardian, custodian or anyone empowered by them may utilize physical discipline. This discipline must be reasonable, warranted, not torturous or cruel, and not cause serious to severe physical harm to the child. This is why when we receive a report that a parent spanked his or her child on the buttocks and left a bruise when the child was caught playing with matches, we will generally not intervene. Of course, this is an oversimplified explanation, as it is hard to convey the issue of parent rights and child protective responsibilities in this manner, this gives you an idea of this issue. Please call us with questions and we will be happy to talk with you further.
Fourth, we utilize screening guidelines established by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services in making our decisions based on information provided to us by reporters.
Finally, we are unable to intervene sometimes, especially when we are asked to manage unruly juveniles, intervene in divorce and custody disputes, or become involved in matters which do not relate to the safety and protection of children.