All seven boys who committed crimes in the community last spring and summer were part of an emergency placement program, it was revealed at a community meeting with officials of the United Methodist Children's Home on Sept. 21.

All seven boys who committed crimes in the community last spring and summer were part of an emergency placement program, it was revealed at a community meeting with officials of the United Methodist Children's Home on Sept. 21.

None of those boys continues to reside at the residential treatment center.

Those were some of the facts unveiled at the meeting of neighbors with UMCH and city officials at the Griswold Center.

Approximately 150 people turned out for the meeting which was a follow-up to the one on August 18, when residents asked many questions. One reason for the second meeting was to provide answers, and to update the community on what is being done to improve its safety in light of the crime sprees that occurred in May, June, and August.

The home accepts boys primarily on referral from Franklin County Children's Services. UMCH officials can reject a boy who they deem as not appropriate for the open-door, suburban setting.

Those who come through the shelter care program need an immediate placement, and children's home officials do not have as much leeway in rejecting them.

It may take one or two days to remove those not suitable, said UMCH official Lori Beuhler.

She also corrected a rumor that 70 percent of residents have felony records. Actually, 70 percent have had some connection with law enforcement, many of them as "unruly delinquents," she said.

One of the new practices at UMCH is to follow residents who leave campus without permission. Officials are not permitted to restrain residents. Those who want to leave may do so.

Now, though, instead of letting residents leave unattended and later calling police, a UMCH staff member walks with them off campus and stays with them until police arrive. That occurred in two runaway incidents the previous weekend, it was reported.

According to interim director Bill Brownson, staff focus and accountability has increased in response to the public outcry after the recent crimes by UMCH residents. Safety of the community is important, he said.

"We are focused on it and it is central to what we do every single day at the UMCH," he told the crowd.

One of the next steps will be to undertake a review of all the programs at the children's home, which has been in Worthington for 99 years.

The residential program could be discontinued, or the type of residents accepted could be changed, he said. Any such decision will involve the community and other stakeholders, but will be made by the UMCH board of trustees, he said.

Several trustees, including former Worthington city manager Dave Elder, attended the public meeting.

Current city manager Matt Greeson repeated his commitment to take action to ensure the safety of the community.

"We want to convey that we are taking this issue seriously and we care about your thoughts and concerns on this issue," he said.