Five caseworkers from Lackawanna County’s Office of Youth and Family Services in Pennsylvania have been charged with felony counts of child endangerment and failing to report abuse after allegedly failing to protect children from severe abuse and neglect.
The charges were announced by District Attorney Mark Powell, who accused the caseworkers of allowing children to endure hazardous living conditions and falsifying reports to cover up the abuse
The arrests came after state authorities downgraded the county agency’s license and involved three caseworkers and two supervisors. The accused individuals were aware of the dangerous and deplorable conditions the children were living in but chose to ignore their duty to intervene. Court documents described one particular home as a “house of horrors” with broken windows, piles of junk, animal waste covering the walls and floors, and an overwhelming stench of decay. The children, aged 9 and 10, were underfed, covered in flea bites, and slept on the floor without proper bedding.
The caseworkers’ negligence and failure to act were revealed after a police investigation prompted by a report of loose dogs. The investigation uncovered the dire conditions in which the children were living.
The mother of the children claimed she had repeatedly sought help from the Office of Youth and Family Services, but her pleas were ignored
Following an annual inspection, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services downgraded Lackawanna County’s license to provisional status and ordered the agency to submit a plan of correction. However, county officials attempted to shift blame onto the Scranton police, accusing them of conducting a biased investigation.
District Attorney Powell refuted the agency’s claims and emphasized that the children’s suffering was a result of the agency’s indifference, not staff shortages. Numerous referrals from concerned individuals, such as neighbors, landlords, teachers, and medical professionals, had been made to the agency, bringing these cases to its attention.
The defendants, Randy Ramik, Bryan Walker, Erik Krauser, Sadie O’Day, and Amy Helcoski, have been released on $20,000 unsecured bail each. They are expected to appear in court next month. Attorneys for the defendants have not been listed, and attempts to reach them for comment have been unsuccessful. The child welfare agency now faces scrutiny and calls for reforms to prevent similar incidents in the future.