65 jobs at risk as Logan County group home set to close

The Adriel residential group home in West Liberty will close next week. The board voted to close after state allegations about staff misconduct last year had threatened Adriel’s license. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
The Adriel residential group home in West Liberty will close next week. The board voted to close after state allegations about staff misconduct last year had threatened Adriel’s license. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Adriel is set to close its group home next week after a state agency began the process to revoke its license and because of troubles finding qualified staff.

Because of the closing, the future of about 65 workers is up in the air, although most will be kept on staff for the time being, CEO Todd Hanes said.

“For the first time since 1900 when they purchased this property, we will not have children sleeping here,” Hanes said.

The children’s residential center in Logan County will shutter Feb. 17 after the West Liberty group home’s board voted to close the program, according to Hanes. The announcement comes just days after the group home received notice of the possible revocation of the certificate to operate the children’s residential center from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The letter from the state alleges several incidents caught on video a year ago, including a staff member mixing cough medicines and soda to get “high.” The video shows the staff member and three children drinking the mixture “for a ‘high.’”

In the same month, video also shows a staff member crushing pills and showing the children how to make a straw from paper bills, before snorting the crushed pills with three children, according to the state’s letter.

The letter also cites a child sustaining a broken wrist during restraint that wasn’t treated medically until the next day, despite the child’s complaints.

Hanes said the letter from the department was unfair, and he said the group home was working hard to correct issues and taking steps forward. He also said the home fired the staff members at fault and removed the some kids that had caused trouble in recent months.

But, he said because of the pending revocation and the problems finding enough qualified staff to work in the home, he asked the Adriel board to close that portion of Adriel.

“My recommendation to the board was to close the facility and the board did vote to close the residential facility here on West Liberty Campus,” Hanes said.

Adriel will continue to work throughout Ohio in foster care, he said.

“The decision was largely based on the desire for quality service,” Hanes said. “We have quality in foster care, we have quality in our wonderful foster parents, great donors that support our work all through the state. In the group home environment, we faced a tough decision.”

Hanes said Adriel is in the process of contacting various counties in an effort to get children into other residences. He said each child has different needs, and it is impossible to predict where each one will end up.

Adriel was a valuable facility in the community, Hanes said, and its closure will hurt.

“We have 65 employees that are connected to the residential program,” he said. “We bring most of those employees from the West Liberty area and the immediate surrounding area. We pay the income tax to West Liberty, we pay the school district income tax. We buy our utilities here, we buy our fuel from the local Shell Station. All the medication that kids use here run through the local pharmacies so it will have an impact on our community.

“Many lives will be affected by leaving this work, and that’s unfortunate,” he said.

Jon Keeling, spokesman for Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said in an email that kids at the group home were not safe and that’s why the agency took action.

“The safety and security of the young people who live at this location are our first priority. Our inspectors take this responsibility very seriously, and as a result of their investigation a determination was made to revoke this location’s license. As is protocol, Adriel has 30 days to appeal.”

Adriel had previously developed a Corrective Action Plan for re-certification that was implemented Feb. 1, 2016.

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