Reports of dirty, unsafe conditions at the United Methodist Children's Home are not all true, according to a response from UMCH officials.

Reports of dirty, unsafe conditions at the United Methodist Children's Home are not all true, according to a response from UMCH officials.

"We did, in fact, have significant shortcomings to the care of our facilities," states the UMCH response. "However, not all that has been reported is accurate."

The response was to allegations in a 19-page report by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (JFS).

Based on inspections of records and facilities during the week of August 16, the report included findings of incomplete record keeping, broken outside lights, broken and filthy furnishings, mold in a basement, graffiti on bedroom walls, and even feces on the floor of one of the campus cottages.

Approximately 30 teenaged boys live at UMCH. Most have been referred for treatment by Franklin County Children's Services, which pays for placement. Many have been through the court system.

Focus has been on the children's home because of a string of runaways and crimes committed in Worthington this spring and summer. The report notes cases of runaways not being reported for two days, and that a critical incident on June 16 was not reported to the custodial agency within 24 hours.

The bulk of the report focuses on conditions in the cottages where the boys live.

Among the findings:

the outside back exit lights were broken at two cottages.

the basement at Wesley Cottage had a "greenish, blackish substance appearing to be mold or mildew."

pieces of formica were missing in the kitchen, showers were missing drain covers, there was a leak in one shower, shower stalls had ground-in dirt, an air vent was smashed, some walls had sections of missing plaster and some tile floors had a dark brown residue or substance on them at Wesley.

at Jones Cottage, carpet, flooring, walls and furnishings were in need of cleaning, repair, replacement, or painting.

walls were dirty, covered with graffiti, and had areas of damaged, missing plaster at Jones.

the bathrooms had plastic bags on the shower stall floor, clothes and soap on the floor, human feces on one floor, also at Jones.

at Asbury Cottage, there were old French fries in a pan in the oven, old food in the refrigerator, spilled food in the cabinets, dirty dishes in the sink.

at Edwards Cottage, a microwave had dried food caked on the inside, dirt under the sink, the kitchen floor was sticky, and upholstery on the sofas in the living area and group room was dirty, stained, warn, and frayed.

at Cherington Cottage, rusted stove burners were encrusted with old food, eight chairs had filthy stains covering the upholstery, two sofa beds had food and garbage under the cushions, and bathrooms did not have hand towels.

In addition, interviews with staff and children revealed that some children have to wait until other children are done eating because there are not enough bowls. They can either wait and wash a bowl, or eat from a mixing bowl or a cup.

The report also states that there are not enough beds to meet the reported capacity of cottages, that some children had to sleep on sofa beds, and that one child reported he had to sleep on sheets used by a previous resident.

According to the home's written response, some of the shortcomings have been addressed and some of the allegations were not true.

"At no time have we ever not had enough beds for the children in our care," the response states. "At all times there is a fully stocked supply of blankets, bed linens, place settings, flatware and drinking glasses."

The worst conditions were in unused cottages, the reply states. It does not clarify which cottages are occupied.

"We are in the process of appealing some findings and making correction action plans for the others," the reply states.

UMCH administrators are expected to give a written reply to JFS before it becomes final in a couple of weeks, according to a story in The Columbus Dispatch. A recommendations committee will decide what action to take.