“There is no question that this is painful,” he said.
Earlier this month, a letter from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said the state had revoked the home’s license and alleged employees violated regulations on several occasions, including reportedly showing kids how to snort pills to get high and not seeking prompt medical care for injured children.
Hanes hasn’t denied the allegations but said that the employees involved were terminated and the home took steps to improve.
But those issues weren’t the main reason Adriel closed, Hanes.
MORE COVERAGE: Fights lead to 9 juvenile arrests at Adriel group home in Logan Co.
“Our top reason is finding a sufficient number of staff here in this area,” he said.
It wasn’t possible to hire enough qualified workers in a small town like West Liberty, he said.
“We have no intention of operating a residential facility,” he said, “and that’s independent of ODJFS.”
On Friday, the remaining seven children at the home were picked up, he said. Workers began finding other placements for the children two weeks ago, he said, and were able to find foster homes for some children. Others were picked up by the counties they’re from.
Neighbors have complained over the past few years about vandalism and thefts. But some neighbors, like Janet Yoder, are worried about the well-being of the children.
“The things that have happened are wrong and they need to be taken care of in the right way,” she said. “But where are these children going to go?”
She used to raise money for the home, she said, and saw how it gave children a stable environment.
EARLIER COVERAGE: Spike in police calls to youth home challenges community
“The bad things you hear are always going to overshadow the good things because that’s what we focus on,” she said. “And that’s a shame.”
Adriel will now focus on the other services it provides, Hanes said, including its foster care network, family preservation and visitation programs.
Its leaders are looking to discuss options with the local school district or educational service center for the school building on its campus that will now go unused, he said.
Adriel has assisted the 52 employees who will lose their jobs because of the closure, he said. They’ve offered job fairs and interviews on campus.
“Things do change and this organization has undergone changes several times in its past,” he said. “I think we’ll come through this stronger.”
It’s in the best interest of the children to close the school, Oelker said, if the company isn’t able to keep a qualified staff.
“We’re going to continue to work with them if they ask for our help with things,” the police chief said.
He plans to focus more on community policing.
Adriel had previously appealed the the state’s decision to revoke its license but Hanes said no decision has been made as to whether the home will continue that appeal.
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Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has reported on problems at the Adriel School in West Liberty for nearly three years, including stories digging into complaints from neighbors and police officials and state investigations of the group home.
By the numbers
40: Approximate number of children housed at the Adriel group home
52: Employees laid off because of the group home closure
100: Years Adriel has had a residential home in West Liberty