Maine DHHS publishes annual report on child protection

This report comes after five children died in Maine in June 2021.

MAINE, US – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services released its annual child welfare report on Wednesday and, among several topics, detailed how the pandemic has affected both the systems that take care of families and families themselves.

This report comes after five children died in Maine in June 2021.

According to the report, the Office of Children and Family Services has been working to put in place system improvements following an assessment of Maine’s child welfare system.

State officials processed 12,000 child protection investigations in 2021, according to the report.

At the end of 2021, the Maine Child Protection Ombudsman said little had been done to address “deep-rooted issues” with the OFS.

Read the DHHS response to the mediator’s remarks here.

Wednesday’s report touched on several steps to improve the agency, including launching the “Family First” program to better support families at risk and an overhaul of an outdated IT system.

Throughout 2021, DHHS continued to develop the new comprehensive child protection information system, named Katahdin. The system is designed to help eliminate inefficiencies and improve the way social workers and supervisors do their jobs, according to the report.

The report also found that the number of children in care has declined after years of steadily increasing.

As of October 2021, approximately 2,200 children were in detention in Maine.

“Together, these reports provide valuable information about the Maine child protection system and other opportunities to improve the health and safety of Maine children,” DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in A press release. “We especially thank the Ombudsman for acknowledging the pressures Maine families and our frontline staff have faced over the past year, particularly those resulting from the COVID pandemic, which has exerted pressure without precedent on our systems and supports. “

To read the full report, click here.

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