Clarksfield resident Carol Gibson accused Huron County social workers of not doing their jobs appropriately and expressed concern about the foster home placement process during the county commissioners' meeting this morning.
"I have a real concern about the foster program," said Gibson, who accused foster care coordinators of playing favorites. "People want children and they're not getting them."
She wants foster parents who smoke to do so outside, especially when the foster children came from homes without smokers.
"The Gravelle children did complain about heavy smokers," Gibson said.
The 11 adopted children of Michael and Sharen Gravelle have been in multiple foster homes since authorities removed them from the couple's home in the fall of 2005. The Gravelles' defense attorney is appealing a jury conviction of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of child abuse and child endangerment for keeping some of the youngsters, ages 1 to 14, in cage-like structures.
Gibson has been a friend of the Clarksfield Township couple for the last four to five years and has been in the Gravelles' home multiple times. She described the punishment as "age appropriate" and the children as "smiling and happy" whenever she saw them.
"I want them to know (the) foster homes are not high quality. There should be regular reviews of these homes," Gibson told the commissioners.
Mike Adelman responded, by saying: "I think they are."
"That's our understanding," commissioner Gary Bauer added.
Adelman disagreed with Gibson's assessment that there are "a lot of poor foster homes," calling her opinion a "wide, brush statement." He said there are many "outstanding" homes for foster children.
Adelman expressed confidence in the county social workers.
Gibson also told the commissioners some of the Gravelle children "talk about their mom all the time (and) want to go home."
"One girl said she wanted a big, happy family" when someone asked her what she wanted for Christmas, Gibson said. She also said many residents have complained that Huron County Common Pleas Judge Earl McGimpsey didn't give Elaine Thompson, the Gravelles' therapist, any jail time for failing to report a felony.
"What you're describing is courtroom procedure. Our office is not a courtroom. We don't wear robes. We aren't judges," Adelman told Gibson.
"There has to be some accountability at the county level with the social workers," the woman said.