Saturday, March 29, 2008

Reasons for an Epiphany

I wrote the other day about an interaction that I witnessed at a Plaid Pantry here in Portland. It involved a man with an apparent developmental disability who was probably living on his own, with little or no support. It wasn’t a very serious problem at the store, but I wrote about my concerns that similarly situated folks face. It’s imperative that these folks have the supports they need! Here’s why... from

Parents get probation for starving child, 3
Published:Saturday, March 29, 2008
By D.A. Wilkinson

A worker in a nutrition program for women and children notified authorities.
LISBON — A “low-functioning” couple may lose custody of their children after authorities found their 3-year-old child weighed just 16 pounds, authorities said. The good news is the child is apparently doing well, authorities added.

The couple was not in a program such as the Columbiana County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities and did not have jobs, said Timothy McNicol, the assistant county prosecutor who handled the case. Daniel R. Clutter Jr., 33, and his wife, Tabitha Lynn Clutter, 24, of Wilbert Avenue, East Liverpool, were sentenced Friday. Each had pleaded guilty earlier to a felony charge of endangering children.

Judge David Tobin of common pleas court ordered them to serve five years’ probation, with the first month served in the Eastern Ohio Correctional Center in Jefferson County, a prison alternative facility.

The parents were absolutely convinced they were taking care of their infant daughter, McNicol said. The couple lived off Social Security disability benefits. “They didn’t have a phone and didn’t know how to get a cab,” McNicol added.

The Clutters were able to seek help from a federal program for the needy known as the Women, Infants and Children Program. The program provides a variety of food, including milk, to mothers and children up to age 5.

The Clutters realized “that the one thing the child would like is milk,” McNicol said. A worker in the WIC program saw the child and notified authorities. “It’s very fortunate,” McNicol said, adding the worker “may have saved the child’s life.”

The little girl’s brain began to shrink either because it was shutting down due to a lack of food or as a means of self-protection, he said. “No evaluation was able to say one way or another that there was any permanent injury from the starvation,” McNicol added. Any problems the child may have could be hereditary or from the starvation. “There’s no way to tell,” McNicol said.

Since the case came to light last year, the couple has had another child. McNicol did not know the gender of the child. An older brother is being cared for by relatives. All three children are expected to be placed in foster care programs.

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