Thursday, November 15, 2018

Kids group wants to hear from the front lines of Maine’s child welfare system



An organization that advocates for Maine kids is seeking feedback on ways the state can improve its child welfare system after the highly publicized deaths of two young girls, allegedly at the hands of their caregivers, within the past year.

While Maine lawmakers passed a set of changes last summer that were meant to close gaps in the system and included $21.2 million in new funding, the Maine Children’s Alliance believes more needs to be done and that any improvements must be guided by people working within the system.

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Maine Voices: Declining vaccination rates play role in rise of pertussis cases

In each of the past five years, Maine has experienced hundreds of cases of pertussis (“whooping cough”), whose terrifying nature comes from its namesake symptom: a deep, gasping cough that sounds – and feels – as though the cougher is on their last breath. Adults experience a grueling illness that tortures them with coughing so intense it often leads to vomiting for weeks to months. For children, the disease can be fatal.

A recent Press Herald story detailed the rising number of pertussis cases in York County, and quoted health experts who attributed the high numbers to an increase in unvaccinated children. While declining vaccination rates have absolutely played a role in the state’s rising rate of pertussis, they do not explain it entirely. Maine is one of several states that has seen cases of pertussis in children who are fully vaccinated, on time and on schedule. How is it possible that a disease that was once well-controlled by a vaccine has started appearing in fully immunized children? We recently completed a study that may help answer this question.

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Maine Voices: Parents of the intellectually disabled have reason to fear our social service system

On several occasions, both this year and last, this newspaper has published the moving accounts of Maine parents who fear for the safety of their adult children with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the care of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services. Exacerbating their fears was a 2017 audit by the U.S. DHHS, severely criticizing Maine officials for failing to investigate the deaths of 133 individuals in state-funded facilities between January 2013 and June 2015. Nine deaths were described as “unexplained, suspicious or untimely.”

The auditor also found that neither the Maine DHHS nor community providers reported 34 percent of sexual assaults, suicidal acts and serious injuries that led to emergency room treatment of Medicaid beneficiaries with developmental disabilities.

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

A grandmother's fight for her two grandsons in custody of Maine DHHS


A grandmother is desperately trying to get custody of her two grandsons who are wards of the state. Their mother's accused of having a meth lab in her house. The boys are now in their third foster home. Their grandmother, Laura Jones wants them to live with her in Florida, but for the last two months, she's hit one roadblock after another.

Former state official says Maine fails its poor

Kevin Concannon was commissioner of DHS when Logan Marr died.   He should not have anything to say in Maine.

Maine is failing its residents who live in poverty by not expanding Medicaid or investing in public health, putting up barriers to assistance and not always taking advantage of federal dollars that can be used to help the needy, a former state official said at a recent talk at the University of Maine at Farmington.

“I think the current administration has really weakened the public health sector in the state, really understaffed it,” said Kevin Concannon, former commissioner of the Maine Department of Human Services under the Angus King administration and the Maine Department of Mental Health and Corrections under the Joseph Brennan administration. “Putting dollars into public health is one of the best ways we can deal with rising health care costs, to say nothing about the life of people who live in the jurisdiction.

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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Prosecutors want single trial for Maine parents in child’s beating death



Prosecutors in the case of a Maine mother charged with beating her 10-year-old daughter to death with her husband’s help want to try the couple together with separate juries.

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Maine-AWARE could bring more mental health resources to schools

Maine is developing a new framework to assist with student mental health needs through collaboration between providers of education and health.

The Maine Department of Education says the initiative is called Maine-AWARE, which stands for Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education. The department says it has received a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services toward the project.

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