DHHS responds to child welfare system recommendations

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:36 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) -The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has announced its response to a report from an independent organization that investigated a series of child deaths this summer.

The report offers seven recommendations in the wake of the beating death of 3-year-old Maddox Williams in Stockton Springs, which drew statewide attention.

Four other children died in June, too.

The department has outlined actions that are being implemented now to address over half of the recommendations.

This includes working with hospitals and law enforcement to ensure better information sharing when making decisions regarding child safety while maintaining confidentiality and the rights of families.

Also, updated training and guidance for clinicians, child welfare staff, and other providers.

And, they are also looking at improving staffing on evenings and weekends, which are times when challenging cases most often enter the system.

The remaining recommendations are in the planning stages.

Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew also addressed concerns from some lawmakers that the recommendations are not enough to fix the system.

”We had dedicated significant effort and attention to child welfare from day one of the Mills Administration recognizing that this is an important responsibility, but this is not the end. We will continue to look at this report. There are other reports that will be coming out. We will be supporting, for example, the child welfare ombudsman and the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability in their own reviews. We look forward to their recommendations.”

DHHS encourages anyone concerned about child abuse or neglect to call their 24-hour hotline at 1-800-452-1999.

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