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.

Drug Abuse Sending More Kids to State Custody

The state wants your kids.
The state of Maine has removed an increasing number of children from their homes in recent years because of their parent’s drug abuse. 
More >> Drug Abuse Sending More Kids to State Custody
Never mind the fact that Governor LePage has cut the shit out of drug abuse programs.

Never mind the fact that there are very successful drug intervention programs that help to keep families together often at a much lower cost than throwing the kid into foster care.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Education reform panel issues first report

A 15-member commission on education reform issued its first report last week, calling for exploring statewide or regional contracts to better compensate and retain effective teachers.

More >> Education reform panel issues first report

Corporal punishment has no place in our schools

Apparently, it’s still legal for Maine public schools to use corporal punishment on children, and there seems to be a lot of confusion about this. Many people, including myself, thought corporal punishment was no longer legal in Maine. I actually thought it must be illegal everywhere. I was wrong!

More >> Corporal punishment has no place in our schools

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Parent suing Maranacook district picked for school board

A parent suing the Maranacook schools over an allegation that a teacher placed a bag over his daughter’s head to humiliate her is now one of Readfield’s representatives on the regional school board.

More >> Parent suing Maranacook district picked for school board

Wednesday, February 15, 2017