Monday, March 20, 2017

How Maine is failing working parents by leaving millions unspent on child care

As Maine faces a labor shortage that’s only expected to intensify in the coming years, the state will need to find ways to ensure more people can work. But instead of expanding access to child care and making it easier for parents to make a living, a handful of state policies that have taken effect over the past decade, during the administrations of both Govs. John Baldacci and Paul LePage, have restricted families’ ability to find affordable care for their kids.

More >> How Maine is failing working parents by leaving millions unspent on child care

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Release of woman in child’s death stirs painful memories for mother

Sally Ann Schofield, 55, a former state child caseworker who suffocated the 5-year-old foster child with duct tape, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 17 years in prison. Schofield remains at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham and is due to be released on probation on April 25. 
More >> Release of woman in child’s death stirs painful memories for mother

You all really don't want to know what I think they should do to her.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Parents of Fairfield woman convicted in baby’s death seek right to visit other child

It's always a tragedy when a baby dies.  This is a sad case all the way around, and I'm happy that the older child in the family is currently living with her biological father but it absolutely disgusts me that these grandparents have to fight to see an older child in the family.
Kayla Stewart, 21, appeared in court Monday on a writ from the Maine Correctional Center for a petition for grandparents' rights filed by Lucille and Randall Stewart, her adoptive parents. 
More >> Parents of Fairfield woman convicted in baby’s death seek right to visit other child
The father has no reason to cut them off.  They didn't kill the baby and shouldn't be punished any more than they already have been.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Former DHHS worker convicted in death of 5-year-old to be released

A former DHHS caseworker convicted in the death of a 5-year-old girl will soon be released from prison. 
Sally Ann Schofield was convicted in 2002 and is serving a 20 year sentence for killing Logan Marr. 
More >> Former DHHS worker convicted in death of 5-year-old to be released

A real parent would have gotten life and this murderer will soon be able to get on with hers..

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Maine's DHHS has a Serious Rat Problem but doesn't want to call it that

In a surprisingly in depth article from the Bangor Daily News, it has come out that Maine's Child Abuse Hotline apparently isn't equip to handle the volume of calls coming in these days.
The state’s child abuse hotline wasn’t able to answer about 1,000 calls per month on average last year, increasing the possibility of injuries to children that otherwise could have been prevented. 
More >> 1,000 calls per month to Maine’s child abuse hotline went unanswered last year
Oh my God!  This is horrible!  Imagine all of those poor abused and neglected children going without the help that they may so desperately need.

Now usually I would point to something like this as a more typical DHHS incompetence or collateral damage from LePage era budget cuts, but this one is more concerning because in addition to another DHHS failure, it points out that Maine has around 55,000 people rushing out to make that call every year.

For the sake of argument, some would suggest that a high number of calls to the child abuse hotline would be a good thing because it means that concerned citizens are looking out for all of the poor abused and neglected children right?   I would even agree with that if not for the fact that most of these people don't know the difference between child abuse and a hole in the ground.

Lets take a closer look at my point.  According to the BDN Article mentioned above...
In 2015, 33 percent of calls — 17,907 out of 54,179 — weren’t answered on the first try. And in 2014, 32 percent of callers — 17,514 out of 55,041 — either hung up or went to voicemail.
However according to an Office of Child and Family Services report, in 2014 Maine only had 2392 substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect, while in 2015 there were only 2148.

To clarify:

In the year 2014:  There were 55,041 calls to the child abuse hotline in Maine that resulted in 2392 confirmed cases of child maltreatment.

In the year 2015:  There were 54,179 calls to the child abuse hotline in Maine that resulted in 2148 confirmed cases of child maltreatment.  

(Page 10)

What this all means folks is that if the state is reporting accurate numbers, then when you apply the math only about 4% of calls to the child abuse hotline in Maine result in confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect.  IOW, out of 54,179 calls to DHHS in 2015, about 52,031 didn't result in squat.  Therefore there are about 52,000 concerned citizens in Maine who apparently deserve to be smacked upside the head every year.

So as you can see the problem isn't so much with an overburdened child abuse hotline as it is with the number of idiots who are overburdening it, because they decide to make that call without having a clue in regards to what constitutes child abuse or neglect or the balls to follow through with the report.  Because of that, there are probably little children in Maine who really are abused and neglected who are falling through the cracks because DHHS is too busy sorting through all the crap from all of the false accusing idiot CPS Rats on a moral superiority trip.

And that my friends is the real problem.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bill Would Provide Mainers With Free Day Care and Home Health Services

Progressive lawmakers and caregiving advocates launched a campaign Monday to establish a Universal Family Care System in Maine. If approved by the Legislature, the system would provide childcare and home care services for all children, seniors and individuals with disabilities, regardless of income.

More >> Bill Would Provide Mainers With Free Day Care and Home Health Services

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Maine's DHHS is ignoring their own failures

Why must I keep saying this?

As of this morning, pretty much every News Media Outlet in Maine is carrying the heartbreaking story which claims that DHHS is snatching more children due to "Parental Drug Abuse."
Here's the story from WMTW News 8 >> Drug abuse sending more kids to state custody 
Here it is from WPOR >>  Drug Abuse Sending More Kids to State Custody
We can't leave out the Propaganda Press Herald's version either >>  Parents’ drug abuse blamed as more Maine children removed from homes
They're posting the story as if it's a sudden realization.  It's like, "Oh my God, how did this happen?  This is horrible!  What are we going to do?"

Of course, Maine isn't the only state struggling with this issue.  In fact, it's a major epidemic all across the country.  
The nation’s drug-addiction epidemic is driving a dramatic increase in the number of children entering foster care, forcing many states to take urgent steps to care for neglected children.
More >> Drug-Addiction Epidemic Creates Crisis in Foster Care
What really amazes me that this REOCCURRING TALE keeps coming up as a newly presented major story in Maine, every so often since about 2012.  For example, here's a Bangor Daily News article from October of 2012 when Bath Salts were all the rage.  >> Parents’ bath salts abuse sends more children to state custody

They couldn't believe it then either.  It was like, "Oh my God!  How did this happen?"

Of course DHHS knows full well what's going on and has for a long time.
If the demand for and cost of foster care in Maine spiked this fiscal year because of drug abuse among young parents, it’s doubtful that child welfare workers were surprised by it. 
Experts in the field say the impact of parental drug use has been visible and mounting for years. 
From an article in the Portland Press Herald from March of 2013 >> Poor planning adds to Maine’s foster care crisis
And this is where I have to stop and get real, because only two years before the above mentioned article came out, Maine was bragging about their National Model Child Welfare System, and how they were "leaders at keeping kids safe in the home."  

The success that DHHS was able to celebrate as late as January of 2011, was significant, including drastically cutting the number of children being removed from their homes in the first place and when they did have to be removed, relying more on kinship placements such as a grandparent or an aunt or even the biological father when they were able.  In doing so, they cut the number of kids in foster care in half over decade beginning with a wave of attention brought to Maine's Child Welfare system after the death of a five year old foster child named Logan Marr who was murdered in January of 2001.
So they know what works. They know how to improve their numbers.  They know how to get the kids back home and they know how to work with the families that have drug dependency issues so that many of these kids can go home.

Here is a part of a letter from Dean Crocker, Maine's Children's Ombudsman to the National Coalition for Child Welfare Reform...
As you have noted, it is in the best interest of a child to keep him/her in the home and with the family whenever possible and safe to do so. Caseworkers now emphasize this goal as they work closely with families, ensuring they receive the supports and services necessary to keep the child safe and the family intact. Reducing the rate of children who are placed in state care or custody has been a significant achievement of our program. In December 2004, there were 2,590 Maine children in DHHS state care or custody. In December 2009, the number in care or custody dropped to 1,650. During this time period, Maine saw a 38.3 percent decrease in the rate of children in DHHS care or custody.
Notice what it says?  "work closely with families, ensuring they receive the supports and services necessary to keep the child safe and the family intact."  And how do they do this?  Here's one example...
Why does Maine need Family Treatment Drug Courts (FTDC)? 
Research has demonstrated that a very high proportion of child protective cases involve parental substance abuse.  Family Treatment Drug Courts have demonstrated improved retention by parents in substance abuse and other treatment, reduced time in foster care, and expedited permanency plans for children. 
Maine's Family Treatment Drug Courts
So the solution is to expand successful programs like this that help people to get off of drugs so that 
a. they're not taking so many kids to begin with and...
b. the kids that they are taking can go home that much quicker...
Which will, of course, lower the number of kids in foster care in Maine instead of increasing the number of kids in foster care which is now the case.

So how did we come to this?  From a National Model Child Welfare System in January of 2011 to "Drug abuse sending more kids to state custody" only 6 years later when we know how successful, not to mention cost effective so many of these programs actually are as compared to the thousands it costs to keep a kid in foster care for however long?  
Local mom first graduate of Family Treatment Drug Court in Bangor
Unfortunately we got a governor with a totally different philosophy on the issue of Child Abuse and Neglect who used one horrific and high profile child abuse case to launch a major policy change in Maine's Child Welfare System.
LePage told a television station Wednesday that he supports the death penalty “for those that kill babies” and feels DHHS has “gone from one extreme to another” when it decides whether to remove a child from a home in which abuse is suspected. 
The department has been criticized in the past for being too quick to remove a child, LePage said, but now, “sometimes we’re putting them back too quickly and sometimes we’re not taking them out fast enough." 
LePage, a victim of abuse as a child, supports a “system that protects our children,” Bennett said.  
DHHS won’t release information on dead baby
That mixed with his welfare cuts have created a state with a big problem and few adequate solutions.
This is pathetic.  Simply pathetic.