Former State Sen. Bill Diamond announce new foundation to prevent further child abuse or homicide in Maine

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 6:02 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - A new nonprofit foundation is all about preventing child homicides and the abuse of children under the supervision or direct care of the state.

“I feel optimistic that this is the year that there is going to be some change,” said Victoria Vose.

Victoria Vose is the grandmother of Maddox Williams, the 3-year-old Stockton Springs boy who died in 2021. His mother was convicted of his murder.

The foundation is organized by former State Senator Bill Diamond who says part of its purpose is to bring a variety of expertise together.

“Front line workers who really know more about what the issues are, maybe what the problems are,” Diamond said.

Maine had a record number of children in 2021 who died from abuse or neglect in households that had prior involvement with Child Protective Services.

The group says part of the problem is that the system is geared toward family reunification.

“When there is year after year, case after case of abuse and neglect, you need to stop the cycle, and the only way to stop the cycle is to stop sending those kids back to dangerous places,” Melanie Blair, Foster parent and volunteer coordinator for the foundation said.

They also say DHHS and the Office of Child and Family Services need to be separated.

Maddox’s grandmother says he should still be here right now, but the system failed him.

“He is a beautiful blue eyed boy, and he just brought so much joy to his paternal family,” Vose said.

In her new budget proposal, Governor Mills allocated 15 million dollars to improve Maines child welfare system, but they say it is not enough.

“We appreciate the money that was allotted, but 15 million, considering what I think needs to be done to reorganize that department, is probably not going to be enough,” Diamond said.

Meanwhile, Diamond says there is a lot of work to be done to ensure no more children die.

“It is time we commit ourselves to as citizens, government agencies, legislators, and the media to ending these needless deaths. Too many children keep dying. Nothing seems to change, and no one seems to be held accountable,” Diamond concluded.