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.

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

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.

More >> Maine-AWARE could bring more mental health resources to schools




Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Increasing Minimum Wage Has Lifted 10,000 Kids From Poverty, Maine Study Finds

Debates around minimum wage continue to dominate politics, as local movements branch into powerful national pushes for better wages and working conditions. It's an important discussion for adults to have, but where do kids weigh in? A new Maine study recently found that increasing minimum wage has lifted 10,000 kids from poverty.

Minimum wage is complicated to discuss, because it has both state and federal standards. As of 2018, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which the Department of Labor noted as going into effect on July 24, 2009. When it comes to states, though, minimum wage can vary greatly.

More >> Increasing Minimum Wage Has Lifted 10,000 Kids From Poverty, Maine Study Finds

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

We're Number 1 : Maine has highest percentage of children living in low-income young families



The "Kids Count" report from the Casey Foundation finds 85 percent of Maine children with young parents live in low-income families. It's the highest percentage compared to other states.

More >> Report: Maine has highest percentage of children living in low-income young families

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Maine schools step up efforts to prevent sexual abuse of young children

Elementary schools throughout the state will spend the 2018-19 academic year implementing a new policy to improve their ability to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.


Prompted by a 2015 law that required a new model to be implemented by July 1, 2016, the Department of Education and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault ( MECASA) have created a model policy for school administrators to adopt this year. The policy also provides pre-kindergarten through grade 5 students with age-appropriate child sexual abuse prevention education.

More >> Maine schools step up efforts to prevent sexual abuse of young children

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Feds: Medication plans for foster children lacking

Nearly 30 percent of foster children in Maine who were prescribed powerful psychiatric drugs did not receive a basic “treatment plan” or regular reviews of their medications, a federal investigation has found.

Just shy of one-third of children in foster care in Maine during the period reviewed by federal investigators were prescribed anti-depressants, drugs to treat anxiety and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders or other “psychotropic” medications. The proportion of Maine foster children receiving such drugs — 1,155 of the 3,527 children in foster care, or 32.7 percent — was well above the 22.2 percent national average for the analyzed period, ranking Maine fifth behind North Dakota, Virginia, New Hampshire and Iowa.

More >> Feds: Medication plans for foster children lacking

Saturday, September 15, 2018

DHHS to review failures of Maine’s mental health treatment for kids

The LePage administration has hired a private consulting firm to lead a wholesale review of how the state provides mental health services to children and where the state’s services are falling short.

More >> DHHS to review failures of Maine’s mental health treatment for kids

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Latest: Maine lawmakers pass teacher misconduct bill

Maine schools would have to alert the state about investigations into teacher misconduct under a bill headed to the governor's desk.

The Senate and House unanimously approved the bill Thursday.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage submitted the bill, which aims to address the issue of Maine educators who are accused of misconduct, and who then resign while maintaining their teaching credential.

More >> The Latest: Maine lawmakers pass teacher misconduct bill

Saturday, September 8, 2018

It's A New School Year, And Maine Schools Are Taking New Safety Measures

It's A New School Year, And Maine Schools Are Taking New Safety Measures
In the wake of the fatal school shooting in Parkland, Florida earlier this year, schools across Maine are taking steps to respond and increasing security measures.

Some are adding security cameras, some are stocking tourniquets, and several have hired new school resource officers to patrol the hallways. While supporters of these new positions say they help make the community feel more secure, civil liberties advocates say the increased police presence could bring its own negative consequences.

More >> It's A New School Year, And Maine Schools Are Taking New Safety Measures

Monday, June 11, 2018

100s of kids await mental health help in Maine

While I do believe that the mental health system is partly a scam, I am a parent who has been in this position with a very difficult child.  It took her being hospitalized, and getting involved with the juvenile justice system to make any of this happen.  Parents shouldn't have to struggle like this.
Hundreds of kids are awaiting mental health services in Maine and many are waiting months. 
The Bangor Daily News reports 336 young people are waiting for home- and community-based treatment under the state's Medicaid program. Over a quarter of those kids have been waiting longer than three months as of April 27. 
More >> 100s of kids await mental health help in Maine

Friday, June 8, 2018

LePage’s plan to put kids in a new kind of psychiatric institution



Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has taken the first steps toward creating a new kind of psychiatric facility in Maine for children and teenagers with intensive mental health needs, in a move that defies decades of state policy and at a time when community services are more difficult to access.

The administration last month released two sets of proposed rules that would govern psychiatric residential treatment facilities and how much the facilities’ operators would be paid to run them.

More >> LePage’s plan to put kids in a new kind of psychiatric institution

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Public Hearing to Be Held on Maine Child Abuse Deaths Report

A Maine oversight committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on a report about an investigation into the state's handling of two cases in which abused children died.

The Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability presented findings to the Government Oversight Committee last week. The Government Oversight Committee's holding the hearing Thursday.

More >> Public Hearing to Be Held on Maine Child Abuse Deaths Report

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

DHHS quietly overhauls aid for children, adults in crisis

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services last month quietly overhauled a statewide emergency service that’s supposed to be available around the clock for children and adults experiencing suicidal thoughts, severe bouts of depression, crippling anxiety or any other mental health crisis.

The first realignment of Maine’s network of mental health crisis services in two decades came without public engagement and with limited preparation. The department says it doesn’t expect to save money as a result of the move, but a change in how it’s paying for the service has some of the private agencies that provide it unsure they can afford to continue providing it long-term.

More >> DHHS quietly overhauls aid for children, adults in crisis

Monday, May 28, 2018

Youth Prison Watchdog Calls For Audit Of Medical Contractor

A private health care company that treats inmates at Maine’s youth prison has come under scrutiny in a new report from the facility’s independent oversight group.

The watchdog report also echoes cries for a comprehensive review of the state systems that have filled the South Portland prison with young people battling mental illnesses.

More >> Youth Prison Watchdog Calls For Audit Of Medical Contractor

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Gov. LePage, DHHS respond to OPEGA report findings

Governor Paul LePage has issued a response to the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability report about the findings of the first phase of their investigation into the Department of Health and Human Services handling of the deaths of two Maine children at the hands of their caretakers.

The investigation was ordered by the Government Oversight Committee March 9, following the December death of Kendall Chick, and the Feb. 25 death of 10-year old Marissa Kennedy. Kendall was reportedly killed after suffering abuse at the hands of her grandfather’s then-fiance, Shawna Gatto. Marissa suffered a prolonged and violent death at the hands of her mother and stepfather, Sharon and Julio Carrillo.

More >> Gov. LePage, DHHS respond to OPEGA report findings

Portland public schools say they won’t report students to immigration enforcement

Officials from Portland Public Schools are telling the community that they will not report students to immigration enforcement officials, and say their schools are a “safe haven” for children and families.

In a written message to families last week, Portland Supt. Xavier Botana said, “We want your children in our schools. We don’t care what their immigration status is. And we believe that that’s not just the right thing to do, but that’s also the law.”

More >> Portland public schools say they won’t report students to immigration enforcement

Friday, May 25, 2018

State failed to follow procedures and share information in deaths of 2 girls

One of the biggest jokes in the State of Maine is DHHS.  



State child protective workers failed to follow policies and procedures in assessing the placement of a young girl who died as a result of abuse last winter, the Legislature’s watchdog agency concluded in a review released Thursday.

In the case of a second girl’s death, there were widely scattered reports of potential abuse or neglect, but information that might have led to a reassessment of the child’s situation and prompted officials to intervene was not shared at critical moments, according to the report by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability.

More >> State failed to follow procedures and share information in deaths of 2 girls

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Breaking the cycle of child abuse | Poland mom

Here is a sugar coating of how Maine's CPS is supposed to help families.  My experience with these Alternative Response workers was radically different. FMI: Click Here



The latest statistics from Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services show that reports of child abuse are decreasing year to year.

Abuse will never end completely – but there are programs to prevent it from starting in the first place, through the Community Partnership for Protecting Children.

More >> Breaking the cycle of child abuse | Poland mom

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Maine Supreme Court to decide whether to kick prosecutors off Carrillo case



Maine’s highest court will decide whether to remove state prosecutors from the case of a Stockton Springs mother who claims they illegally collected evidence in their efforts to prove she killed her daughter.

Sharon Carrillo’s attorney, Chris MacLean, filed a motion to disqualify prosecutors, saying they illegally used subpoenas to obtain confidential records, but a Superior Court judge in April denied the motion.

More >> Maine Supreme Court to decide whether to kick prosecutors off Carrillo case

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Maine man learns truth of his past: Nuns stole him as a baby from his mother in Ireland

Kevin Battle was a baby when church officials raided his family home in Ireland and plucked him from the arms of his mother, an unmarried 24-year-old who had run away from the convent where she and hundreds of other Irish girls were sent to give birth to secret children.

After raising the boy she named William for more than a year, his mother couldn’t bear to give him up, so she grabbed her chubby-cheeked boy and escaped home to her family in County Limerick. But the nuns had plans for the boy, so they tracked down the mother and child and forcefully reclaimed him.

More >> Maine man learns truth of his past: Nuns stole him as a baby from his mother in Ireland

Saturday, May 12, 2018

LK's personal complaint against (Patricia) PJ Miles from KidsPeace Maine - Alternative Response Worker



KidsPeace

https://www.kidspeace.org/maine/



Phone(207) 771-5700

49 Atlantic Place
South Portland, Maine
04106

5/15/2018


To John Beaman or to whom it may concern

On Wednesday May 9th I received a phone call from one PJ Miles (Patricia J. Miles).  This was due to a false accusation of child abuse or neglect that was made on May 7th and was referred to your agency for Alternative Response Services.

I found PJ Miles to be rude and disrespectful.  She seemed to have her mind made up that I was guilty before she even called.  Within 30 seconds of the two-minute conversation she was already accusing me of verbal aggression and all I said was that I wasn’t interested in any of her services.  By the end of the conversation she had accused me of bullying her and threatened to get Child Protective Services involved and decided that she didn’t want to work with me even quicker than that.  So finally, I said, I’m sorry I can’t work with you and hung up.  It was obvious that if one did not kiss this woman’s butt right after her introduction then accusations were gonna fly.  Fortunately, she did tell me she represented your agency KidsPeace Maine.

Shortly after, I contacted her supervisor Stephanie Cater at 207-877-5029 and complained.  I was really upset over this as the situation is already scary enough.  Ms. Cater took my complaint about PJ Miles over the phone although I doubt she did anything, and I agreed to talk to another worker named Ryan Weaver.  After speaking with Mr. Weaver, I set up a meeting with him, agreed to work with him to resolve this issue.  Unfortunately, before this could even be set up, PJ Miles had already sent it back to CPS, so I ended up having to work with a real CPS worker, who was also much more professional, respectful and much nicer than PJ Miles.

PJ Miles
PJ Miles and her dog
First of all, I find it difficult to believe that anybody would be happy to hear from an any CPS or Alternative Response worker to discuss a false allegation of child abuse or neglect.  It was a shock to me to have the accusation made in the first place, but to have somebody who was unprofessional and throwing around even more unwarranted accusations left and right so quickly and without even knowing me is simply intensifying an already stressful situation.  I’m not a bad person and I’m working with several professionals already regarding the same special needs child who the report was made about, and who all respect me and enjoy working with me.  I didn’t even have a problem with the CPS worker in all honesty, so far anyway.  I guess an unproven accusation is all PJ Miles needs to pass judgement.  She’s certainly not objective.  Perhaps your agency should offer better training to your workers.  Just a thought.

Because of this incident and my faith that PJ Miles will probably get away with it with no repercussions and be left to attack other parents who find themselves in this situation and who live in my own community, like she attacked me during a 2 minute phone conversation, I have decided to focus my attention on your agency, KidsPeace Maine, on my blogs.  I am a popular blogger who runs a blog on Parental Rights and Child Welfare Issues called Legally Kidnapped which can be found at www.LegallyKidnapped.com  Your agency, and PJ Miles will be blogged about for the whole world to see for as long as this case drags out.  PJ Miles will also now have a special featured post on Legally Kidnapped, because I think it’s important to warn other parents that workers like her are allowed to attack parents like this, so I will post a copy of this grievance on there as well as on all of my social media accounts that are associated with my blog.  And it will be there forever.

It’s really quite sad and pathetic that I have to do this considering that some families may even benefit from the services your agency offers.

Thanks to her supervisor, Ms. Cater, giving me her real first name (Patricia), I was able to find her on Facebook just by typing her name and get her picture for my blog but I will never contact her in any way again.  So honestly, I don’t care what you do with this grievance.  I would like a written apology from PJ Miles for my blog as well, but I won’t hold my breath.

Sincerely
Patrick Rafferty

LK
www.LegallyKidnapped.com





Monday, April 30, 2018

Letter to the editor: It’s hard for Maine parents to find good help for a troubled child

s a parent who struggled to find help for a now-grown child, let me make it clear: The stigma and shame came as the result of seeking help, both from professionals and other community resources.

More >> Letter to the editor: It’s hard for Maine parents to find good help for a troubled child

Friday, April 27, 2018

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Garrett Mason Suggests Schools Shouldn’t Feed Students

Westbrook, MAINE – As the Maine Republican primary for governor heats up, one candidate – Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason - is running further to the right than most. During a Republican gubernatorial forum in Palmyra this past Saturday, Mason launched into an ideological tirade against the government, going so far as to take aim at a program that helps feed tens of thousands of Maine kids through free or reduced-price lunches at schools.

“You know who believes that the government should control society? Karl Marx. Karl Marx and communism - they thought the government could control society. It’s failed everywhere it's been tried,” Mason said. “The way you fix society is not by providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner at school; it’s not by providing every social program under the sun through the government.”

Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett issued the following statement in response:

“As a direct result of Governor Paul LePage’s policies, more children in Maine are poorer and hungrier – and now Garrett Mason wants to make it worse by attacking a successful program that helps feed kids at school.

More >> Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Garrett Mason Suggests Schools Shouldn’t Feed Students

Thursday, April 26, 2018

'Now we have threats to kill students, to kill teachers': Maine schools seeing rise in violent threats

Maine police said they have seen an increase in threats made to local schools since the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February.

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 people dead.

More >> 'Now we have threats to kill students, to kill teachers': Maine schools seeing rise in violent threats

Maine watchdog agency delays report on state’s handling of fatal child abuse cases



The Legislature’s watchdog agency will take an additional three weeks to complete its investigation into how the state’s child protective system dealt with abuse reports of two Maine girls who were beaten to death. But the agency was able to gather the information it needs – despite concerns about state privacy laws – and will produce a report.

Beth Ashcroft, director of the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, which is examining the two abuse cases, said the original timeline to complete the report – May 2 – was too aggressive considering the myriad of legal and privacy issues they had to navigate before even receiving information from various agencies.

More >> Maine watchdog agency delays report on state’s handling of fatal child abuse cases

LePage vetoes extended funding for child abuse prevention program

Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would protect a $2.2 million child abuse prevention program that is slated to be eliminated this fall. The state’s system to protect children is under intense scrutiny after the child abuse deaths of two girls in the span of three months.

A government watchdog agency investigating the deaths is expected to release a report on May 24.

More >> LePage vetoes extended funding for child abuse prevention program

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Societal changes cost schools big in Waterville, officials say at workshop

When Eric Haley came to Waterville in 1985, there was one nurse for all the schools, there were no social workers or school resource officers on staff and the idea of hiring a psychiatrist was unheard of. 
Now, 33 years later, there is a nurse in every school, six social workers on staff and the district contracts with a psychiatrist and plans to hire one for the next school year. 
More >> Societal changes cost schools big in Waterville, officials say at workshop

In danger of sounding like a broken record, a lot of these parents who aren't at fault have no where to go.  All of the services we once had that could have helped these kids outside of school are gone.

Teen sues over detention at Long Creek, challenging Maine’s imprisonment of youths


A Skowhegan teen is asking the state’s top court to overturn his commitment to Maine’s youth prison in a case that claims the state corrections system is incapable of rehabilitating young people. 
Last October, the 16-year-old, who is called J.R. in court documents, was sentenced to incarceration at the Long Creek Youth Development Center up to the age of 18 for a series of non-violent crimes, including two charges that were dropped from felonies to misdemeanors. 
In a February appeal, the teen’s lawyer, Tina Heather Nadeau of Portland, asked the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to release J.R. and declare incarceration of young people for such minor crimes “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the Maine and U.S. constitutions. 
The lawyer argued in a Friday court brief that her client was sent to Long Creek because the state lacks alternatives to the prison and that the juvenile court “abused” its discretion in locking up someone who was not a threat to the public. 
More >> Teen sues over detention at Long Creek, challenging Maine’s imprisonment of youths

The line in red really sums it up.  The state lacks alternatives.  That's because it's been so damn important to cut all of the alternatives that we did have under the guise of Paul LePage and Marry Mayhew's welfare reforms.  That leaves us with only the worst and most expensive options for dealing with our troubled youth. 

It's quite pathetic really.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Former U.S. senator blasts Rep. Poliquin: ‘This character from Maine’ is trying to gut fresh fruit, veggies in school



Tom Harkin of Iowa says Bruce Poliquin is so determined to push frozen blueberries from his district that it imperils the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program that serves 4 million schoolchildren.

More >> Former U.S. senator blasts Rep. Poliquin: ‘This character from Maine’ is trying to gut fresh fruit, veggies in school

My daughters school participates in this program.  It benefits all the kids, not just the poor. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Child welfare computer system taken down after "suspicious traffic"

The company that runs the state's child welfare services took its entire computer network offline Monday after finding suspicious traffic on it.

In a blog post Wednesday, KVC Health Systems explained its IT team took the network down "within minutes" of spotting the problem. The outage knocked offline employees' email, applications, as well as the shared files. It even affected some phone lines.

More >> Child welfare computer system taken down after "suspicious traffic"

Sunday, April 15, 2018

DHHS reviews child abuse cases it contracted out

Maine’s child welfare program is revisiting six-and-a-half months of child abuse reports it received and referred to contractors who intervene in “lower-risk” abuse and neglect cases.


The Office of Child and Family Services earlier this month asked the four contractors who handle those lower-risk cases to comb through their records dating back to last Aug. 31 and re-report to the state many of the families whose cases they were assigned. The state would then review those cases.

More >> DHHS reviews child abuse cases it contracted out

Friday, April 13, 2018

Maine House Passes Conversion Therapy Ban After Fiery Debate

Passions boiled over during a debate in the Maine House over a bill to ban conversion therapy, causing the House speaker to suspend debate at one point so tensions could simmer before members cast their vote.

More >> Maine House Passes Conversion Therapy Ban After Fiery Debate

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Maine House votes to save child abuse prevention program



The Maine House on Tuesday voted to rescue a $2.2 million child abuse prevention program in an effort to overturn attempts by the LePage administration to terminate it.

The bill to save the Community Partnerships for Protecting Children has attracted bipartisan support, with Democratic lawmakers joined by Republican Senate Majority Leader Michael Thibodeau and Republican Sen. Amy Volk of Scarborough. The measure, approved by voice vote, and will now go to the Maine Senate.

More >> Maine House votes to save child abuse prevention program

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Maine adoption fight pits two families who love a little girl. Only one could take her home.




In a case badly mishandled by the state, two families with legitimate claims and lots of love for a little girl are thrust into an emotionally devastating adoption battle.

More >> Maine adoption fight pits two families who love a little girl. Only one could take her home.

Friday, April 6, 2018

New Tool in Investigating Child Abuse Cases Could Lead to 'False Negatives'

When a suspected case of child abuse or neglect in Maine is reported to the state, it is the state's job to decide whether to open an investigation. A year ago, the Maine Office of Child and Family Services started using a new tool to help caseworkers make these decisions. But some professionals who frequently report suspected abuse say they're worried that the state is no longer investigating all of the cases it should, leaving some children in unsafe situations. 
More >> New Tool in Investigating Child Abuse Cases Could Lead to 'False Negatives'
Maine's DHHS workers aren't too bright.  So I can see where it would be common where they would screw it up.

On the flip side, I'm sure a lot of families are wrongfully torn apart too.

Lawmakers Consider Bills To Repeal Parts - Or All - Of Maine's 'Proficiency-Based' Education Law

Maine's transition to "proficiency-based" high school diplomas is under increasing scrutiny from parents, educators - and now, lawmakers.  The state Department of Education is proposing a bill that it says would repeal pieces of the law and grant more flexibility to local districts.

Ninth graders in Maine are set to be the first graduating class to receive "proficiency-based" diplomas.  They will have to be "proficient" in up to eight subjects, including math, English and science, in order to graduate. But the policy has been delayed in the past and questioned by key stakeholders.


More >> Lawmakers Consider Bills To Repeal Parts - Or All - Of Maine's 'Proficiency-Based' Education Law

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Lawmakers told Maine must reassess how it deals with children who commit crimes

Three experts in juvenile justice urged lawmakers on Wednesday to do a top-to-bottom assessment of how the state responds to troubled children.

The recommendation came during a joint meeting of two legislative committees to discuss ongoing problems at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, the state’s only correctional facility for youths, where a suicide by a transgender teen in 2016 and turmoil among the staff have highlighted what advocates say is a failing model of rehabilitating children accused of crimes.

More >> Lawmakers told Maine must reassess how it deals with children who commit crimes

Lisbon man charged with terrorizing after threat to blow up DHHS building

I am posting this because there are pretty much two possibilities for why this guy might be so angry at DHHS.  The first is that he was denied benefits, the 2nd is that DHHS took his kid.  I'm operating on the assumption that one of these might be true and therefore it would be relevant.
Police arrested a Lisbon man Wednesday and charged him with terrorizing after threats were made to blow up a building. 
Lisbon Police say they received a tip Wednesday that Alexander Hanks, 24, of 30 Sabattus Creek Drive, Lisbon threatened on social media to blow up a Department of Health and Human Services building. Police contacted DHHS and began an investigation, according to a statement from the Lisbon Police. 
More >> Lisbon man charged with terrorizing after threat to blow up DHHS building
Perhaps we'll know more later?

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Maine to consider 'red flag law'

Several states have debated similar red flag laws in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

More >> Maine to consider 'red flag law'

Marissa Kennedy and Kendall Chick Are This Years Springboards For Child Abuse Propaganda Month in Maine



With these two cases still fresh in the minds of the emotion junkies who want DHHS to snatch more kids more quickly from their parents and make them harder to get back after comes National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  This is the number one month for all of the private agencies who profit from work with abused children and their families to hold their fundraisers Awareness Campaigns.  There will be blue pinwheel gardens and candle light vigils and ceremonies and on and on all across the country.
Two high profile child abuse cases in Maine, the deaths of Kendall Chick and Marissa Kennedy, left many Mainers wondering how and why it happened.

But one organization is looking ahead, not back. 
The Maine Children's Trust oversees child abuse and neglect councils in every one of Maine's sixteen counties. 
Source >> Maine Children's Trust kicks off Child Abuse Prevention Month
Unfortunately this year we have two recent and horrific child abuse cases which they will certainly be harping on and more people will come out to give because of it.  And ultimately, there will be a spike in the number of foster kids in Maine.







Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Lawmakers: LePage gag order means we can’t tell if DHHS is doing its job

Lawmakers on the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee say they can’t complete a review of the department they oversee because no one from the department would come talk to them about it.

Last Thursday’s House calendar included a letter, signed by co-chairs Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, and Rep. Patricia Hymanson, D-York, stating that their committee “was unable to engage in direct dialogue with any members of the department,” despite all other committees having the opportunity to do so.

More >> Lawmakers: LePage gag order means we can’t tell if DHHS is doing its job

Monday, April 2, 2018

Tests show no pot in cookies that Bangor day care staff said got them high, police say



I would love it if the parents involved in this case could reach out to me for comment.  I would like to know what the police and daycare put them through.  If anybody has any insight into this, I would love to hear from them.

The cookies that a dozen Bangor day care staffers believed got them high in February did not contain any illicit substances, investigators said Monday.
About a quarter of the 44-person staff at Bangor’s Watch Me Shine day care reported feeling intoxicated Feb. 14 after they ate Valentine’s Day cookies dropped off by a parent, the center’s director said.
More >> Tests show no pot in cookies that Bangor day care staff said got them high, police say
As for the staff at this particular daycare...  They weren't high, just stupid.

It would be wise to avoid www.WatchMeShine.net.  They'll report anything.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A federal appeals court has ruled against parents in Maine who wanted to record the school day of their son with a rare neurological disorder that affects his speaking ability.

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston sided Monday with the school district, which has blocked the teen from bringing the audio recording device to class.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Plan addresses mental health in Maine schools

A new bill addresses mental health in Maine schools by putting emphasis on mental health awareness. 
More >> Plan addresses mental health in Maine schools
Should we be concerned?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Scarborough superintendent tries to halt student voter registration drive

The Scarborough school superintendent took steps Thursday to halt a student voter registration drive at Scarborough High School that was meant to drum up support for recall petitions aimed at ousting three school board members.

Superintendent Julie Kukenberger announced her effort in an email to the school community after about 30 seniors walked from the high school to the town hall next door to register to vote and sign the petitions.

More >> Scarborough superintendent tries to halt student voter registration drive

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Bill to allow guns in cars on school grounds is unanimously rejected by Maine House

AUGUSTA — Legislation that would have allowed firearms onto school grounds in Maine, provided they were locked in an occupied vehicle and unloaded, was unanimously rejected by the Maine House on Tuesday.

The bill, offered by Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, was introduced prior to a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that claimed 17 lives, and was originally meant to allow parents who hunt to be able to pick up or drop off their children at school without having to remove their weapons from their vehicles.

More >> Bill to allow guns in cars on school grounds is unanimously rejected by Maine House

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

NEWS CENTER Maine files lawsuit against DHHS, demands access to child case files

After being denied access to Marissa Kennedy's and Kendall Chick's case files within the Department of Health and Human services, NEWS CENTER Maine has taken legal action.

More >> NEWS CENTER Maine files lawsuit against DHHS, demands access to child case files

Internal Investigations enable them to cover their tracks.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Governor LePage wants DHHS to remove more children from their homes



I've been meaning to do a follow-up to my March 4th post entitled:
DHHS and the Death of Marissa Kennedy - How one high profile child abuse case will lead to a spike in the number of child removals in Maine
because I believe this case will ultimately lead to a spike in the number of DHHS child removals and therefore the number of foster children in Maine.

At this point I have collected about 80 or so news articles and videos.  Nearly two weeks after my earlier post, I have read most of them.  Many support my theory.  I must say however, that the most disturbing thing about this whole mess is Governor Paul LePage.

Not only has Governor LePage has been using some really strange terms, but he has been demonstrating his lack of understanding about child welfare issues very clearly.  He is also threatening to make changes to the way child abuse cases are handled by executive order even before an internal (or  OPEGA) investigation identifies any of what needs to change.
"In this particular case, it is a comedy of errors both at DHHS, CDS, the mandatory reporters from the schools, law enforcement...everybody messed this up."
LePage calls child abuse death of Marissa Kennedy 'a comedy of errors'
Governor Paul LePage
"Comedy of errors," is a phrase that everybody has been trying to figure out.  I'm not even going to attempt it except to say that he is pointing fingers at everybody without knowing anything about the case.  He's even going as far as to blame the legislature for not supporting one of his desired policy changes regarding abused children from a few years ago.

First of all, CDS, which I assume means Child Development Services wouldn't have had anything to do with Marissa Kennedy because she's older than 4 years old.  It is possible that CDS would have been involved with another child who died back in December by the name of Kendall Chick but I believe he was responding to the Marissa Kennedy case.

Not only that, the Bangor school department has defended themselves stating that they made multiple reports about abuse concerns for Marissa.  I actually believe them because it is pretty much the way to the modern teacher to report every little scrape on the knee.
Bangor school district officials made multiple reports to the state last year over suspicions that a 10-year-old girl who was later allegedly beaten to death by her parents was being abused or neglected, Superintendent of Schools Betsy Webb said. The Bangor district made reports to the Department of Health and Human Services during the 2016-17 school year, when Marissa Kennedy was a student at Fairmount School, Webb said. “On a number of occasions, when our staff had reason to report suspected abuse or neglect, staff made the necessary reports to DHHS,” Webb said. “Educators are mandatory reporters. When they suspect abuse, they make a report to [DHHS] and to law enforcement,” Webb said. “They report, but they do not even receive information back as to what happens with the report.”
Bangor school officials reported suspected abuse of girl who later died, superintendent says
And Bangor Police are saying...


"Officers did not observe injury or behavior suggesting that Marissa or her siblings were in a dangerous or unhealthy environment... And any suggestion the officers had information they were, and did not act, is simply inaccurate."

Bangor Officials Respond following 10 Year Old Girl's Murder
So as you can see, LePages comments have not resonated well.  

But even more concerning than that is his more recent comments.
"I want to do what's best for the children, and this is what the dialogue is that we are not having: What is best for the child? It should be reunification in some cases, other cases it may not be," LePage said. 
"In this particular case, there's education involved, there's CDS, DHHS, law enforcement, there are so many different agencies involved and they were siloed – they don't share information," LePage said. "I think we need to start looking at ways to share information when people are at risk." 
LePage said the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is dealing with a lack of resources, employee burnout and outdated software. All possible factors into why Kennedy's case fell through the cracks, he said.
LePage to toughen child services in wake of Kennedy case
Marissa Kennedy
Now in the first paragraph from the above quote LePage referrers to "reunification."  My understanding of the word "reunification" in regards to child welfare is when you give a child back to their parents.  This has nothing to do with the Marissa Kennedy case as she had not been removed from her parents.  Nor am I aware of any recent cases where a child was murdered in Maine after being "reunified" with their parents (Kendall Chick was in foster care kinship placement).  Not to mention that studies have shown that kids tend to do much better in their homes than they do in foster care.  Sometimes this simply means that the parents need a little support such as counseling or drug treatment, but whatever the case may be, if the parents get it together, they should damn well get the kids back.

Why LePage would be so concerned with DHHS's supposed goal of reunification which is hardy easy for a parent in Maine, is beyond me.  Reunification only happens after all of the concerns raised by DHHS have been fixed or addressed, and the parents demonstrate that they can keep the kids safe in the home.  Even after the kids do go home the social workers stay right up the parents butts for a time after that anyway and it's not that uncommon for a child to be taken again.

But then LePage goes on to say (although not a direct quote)...
Gov. Paul LePage suggested on Thursday that Maine’s child welfare system may leave too many vulnerable kids with their families and said he will unveil executive orders aimed at shoring up the system after the recent deaths of two girls.  (the second girl being Kendall Chick)
And that should scare the living shit out of you because it can only mean one thing.  He intends to "fix" that which he has no understanding of.  He intends to lower the standards regarding what DHHS can remove a child for.  


















Friday, March 16, 2018

Maine To Fast Track Trafficking Tiny Human Asset Forfeiture Policies

Paul LePage has never come across to me as a man of compassion.

Neither has he even remotely reminded me of a scholar.

Something tells me he is putting Maine in play for those trafficking tiny human asset forfeiture policies.

More >> Maine To Fast Track Trafficking Tiny Human Asset Forfeiture Policies


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Parents 'outraged' after 'regrettable' police walkthrough incident at Windham High

The school's scheduled lockdown drill had been canceled, yet school officials said an officer while on a planned walkthrough entered the cafeteria and instructed students it was a drill and that "they should get down."

More >> Parents 'outraged' after 'regrettable' police walkthrough incident at Windham High

LePage says he’ll submit orders to change Maine’s child welfare system



AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage suggested on Thursday that Maine’s child welfare system may leave too many vulnerable kids with their families and said he will unveil executive orders aimed at shoring up the system after the recent deaths of two girls.

The Republican governor gave few details about his proposals, but his Department of Health and Human Services is being probed by the Maine Legislature and doing an internal investigation after the recent deaths of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy and 4-year-old Kendall Chick.

More >> LePage says he’ll submit orders to change Maine’s child welfare system

‘The time for silence is over’: Maine students join nationwide gun control walkout despite storm

Young people in the U.S. walked out of school to demand action on gun violence Wednesday in what activists hoped would be the biggest demonstration of student activism yet in response to last month’s massacre in Florida.

More >> ‘The time for silence is over’: Maine students join nationwide gun control walkout despite storm

Lawsuit: Child beaten at juvenile detention center

A lawsuit in Maine says an 11-year-old boy with mental illness at a juvenile detention center was beaten by corrections officers and denied medical care.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court against the state Department of Corrections, medical care provider Correct Care Solutions and Long Creek Youth Development Center officials.

More >> Lawsuit: Child beaten at juvenile detention center

Friday, March 9, 2018

Closing Maine’s embattled youth prison ‘not so simple’

The advocates calling to close Maine’s youth prison and the people who run it agree on something: Fewer kids behind bars is better.

It’s an idea that over the past decades shuttered another youth prison and saw a sharp reduction of inmates at the Long Creek Youth Development Center. More recently, as the South Portland facility has struggled with a staffing crisis and a large population of teens with deep mental illness, this idea has led criminal justice reform groups to call for it to be shut down.

More >> Closing Maine’s embattled youth prison ‘not so simple’

Monday, March 5, 2018

Maine rethinks requiring student proficiency to earn a diploma

State education officials are proposing a radical restructuring of Maine’s proficiency-based diploma law, which was one of the first in the nation and touted by the governor as one of his key education reforms when it passed in 2012.

Six years later, Department of Education officials are proposing the elimination of a key tenet of the law: Students would no longer have to attain a standard level of proficiency in eight learning areas in order to get a diploma.

More >> Maine rethinks requiring student proficiency to earn a diploma

Lawyer: Mother charged in daughter's death was abused, did not kill girl

The lawyer for the Stockton Springs mother accused of murdering her 10-year-old daughter said he is questioning the state’s investigation and that his client did not abuse her daughter.

More >> Lawyer: Mother charged in daughter's death was abused, did not kill girl

Sunday, March 4, 2018

DHHS and the Death of Marissa Kennedy - How one high profile child abuse case will lead to a spike in the number of child removals in Maine

Introduction

Today I'm going to explain a pattern that I have noticed during my years of blogging about child welfare issues and how that pattern is playing out today.  How a high profile child abuse case can be used as a springboard to promote knee jerk reactions from the legislatures and policy changes for better or worse.

I'm doing this because due to recent events in Maine, I believe it's going to happen again and not for the better.  In fact, I believe we're in for a major shift in policy in regards to the way Maine's Department of Health and Human Services handles child abuse cases.  Mainly that they're going to grow and there will be a large spike in the number of DHHS Child Removals leading to a large spike in the number of foster children in Maine over the next year.

All the signs are there.  Let me explain.


The case


I'm sure anybody in Maine must have by now heard of Marissa Kennedy, the 10 year old child abuse victim who died last week.
Now to anybody with a heart, this is a horrific case.  To Maine's local news media, it's a big juicy story.  To Maine's Child Welfare system (DHHS Children and Family Services) however, it's a growth opportunity.  

Again let me explain.

DHHS is about to go under the microscope.  This will happen because a number of people including members of Maine's Legislature are of the belief that DHHS could have / should have / would have done more to save this child prior to her death.  The Bangor Daily News is reporting that school officials reported suspected abuse to DHHS.  Police had been to the house on multiple occasions.  etc. 
Look at the above headline.  "Did officials miss warning signs about ex-New Windsor couple accused of killing child?"  Perhaps.  It happens.  Unfortunately some kids fall through the cracks.  It's sad when it happens but when it does questions are raised.  Could DHHS have done more to save this child?  


Some people in high places want to know.
Lawmakers and children’s advocates ratcheted up the pressure on the LePage administration Friday, calling for an investigation of how it handled reports of what state police say was a case of prolonged and severe abuse that led to the death of a 10-year-old girl in Stockton Springs.
Source >> Lawmakers press LePage administration for answers about abuse case that led to girl’s death
It doesn't stop with this one case.  The news media is also reporting that child abuse is increasing in Maine.   


This makes it a systematic problem.  That means that it's much larger than this one case.


Now when you mix all of this up into today's reality and add in things like Governor LePage cutting funding to child abuse prevention programs...


You have a recipe for disaster...  
which leads to policy change.  I.e.  They will start removing kids more quickly and it will be more difficult for parents to get them back, thus the system will grow.


Historically

This isn't the first time anything like this has happened.  In fact, this child abuse death leading to policy change has happened twice in Maine over the last 20 years or so with the most famous case being that of 6 year old Logan Marr.  After Logan's untimely death in a foster home back in January of 2001, Maine reformed it's child welfare system.  The new focus was on helping the families to keep kids safe in the home.

By January of 2011, Maine was celebrating the changes.  DHHS was considered a national model child welfare system and leaders at keeping kids safe in the home.
The states accomplishments under Governor John Baldacci included using kinship care instead of foster homes in more cases and increasing family preservation services so that the parents could become better parents instead of tearing the family apart and throwing the kid into foster care.  


Ultimately the number of foster kids in Maine was pretty much cut in half.  This was a good thing because prior to this Maine had one of the most notorious "Take the child and run" child welfare systems in the country.  

The second major high profile child abuse death that promoted a shift in Maine's CPS policies and procedures happened shortly after Governor LePage took office.  In May of 2012, 2 1/2 month old Ethan Henderson was thrown into a chair by his father Gordon Collins-Faunce.  Collins-Faunce had himself spent a good part of his life in foster care as well as a history of mental health issues.  He did not come out of it undamaged.

When asked for comment on this case, Lepage replied...
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.”
Source >>  DHHS won’t release information on dead baby
And by October of the same year, the pendulum had swing back the other way, with "drug abuse" being the culprit. 
A spike in the number of children entering state custody because their parents are abusing bath salts has forced the state’s Office of Child and Family Services to add almost $1 million to its budget this year to accommodate 200 additional children living in foster care and in the homes of relatives.
Source >> Parents’ bath salts abuse sends more children to state custody
A year later, Commissioner Mary Mayhew was asking the legislature for an additional $4.2 million dollars because of the inflating number of foster kids in the state.  I must add that foster care is the much more expensive alternative.  The cheaper and better way is to help the family with needed services such as drug treatment, mental health services, etc.
At the same time LePage cut services to families.  This was based on his strong aversion to welfare.
These two cases that I have just mentioned caused the state to review it's existing policies, causing the pendulum to swing one way then the other.

Anyway, I could go on and on about that, but then we'd never get to how it's happening today.


Back to the present

So here we are today.  Things are heating up.  The court of public opinion passing judgement on the parents of little Marissa Kennedy.  The legislature calling for an investigation into the handling of this and several other child abuse cases.  Family preservation services that help to keep kids safe in their homes are becoming a thing of the past.  So what happens next?

Well DHHS will probably try to cover their tracks, shuffle around a supervisor and a CPS worker or two, and they will change their policies on how things shoudl be handled and they will be much more quick to remove children.  It's better to be safe than sorry, but that unfortunately leads to kids being removed who would do just as well in their own homes with a little bit of help and support from the community.  It will also lead to it being more difficult for parents to get their kids back out of care after they have been removed.  The legislature will throw more money at the problem and therefore the system will grow.


CPS workers tend to get jittery when they are under the watchful eye of news reporters.  God forbid anything like this happens again.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Rise of School Resource Officers in Maine



I suspect we will be seeing a lot more of this in the coming months.  
The Regional School Unit 13 board of directors will vote Thursday on whether to add school resource officers at a high school and elementary school in Rockland. 
If board members approve the plan, the district would establish a partnership with the Rockland Police Department to have an officer serve both Oceanside High School and the South School, an elementary school, according to the school board’s agenda. 
RSU 13 Superintendent John McDonald told the Courier-Gazette that he would also confer with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office about providing officers for Oceanside Middle School in Thomaston and the district’s other schools not located in Rockland. 
More >> Rockland-area school district considers adding police officers
Especially with the recent wave of threats made by students on social media right here in Maine.


I'm not opposed to school recourse officers in this day and age of school shootings.  I think it is worth having safety measures in place.  After all, psycho's showing up at schools with AR-15's has become a terrifying fact of life for many, especially with the news media overly sensationalizing and harping on it such as they do. 

Parents are afraid, hoping and praying that their kid won't be next victims in a long and bloody problem that our government can't seem to be bothered with enough to take action.

I'm also not totally opposed to teachers being armed if they are properly trained although I have a hard time picturing my daughters kindergarten teacher playing Kindergarten Cop/Commando in an active shooter situation with her gun drawn, leading all the kids to safety. 

What I am against is turning our schools into prisons, which is the next step.  You know when 7 year old kids start getting cuffed and arrested for behavioral problems?
Or when the cop decides that the child isn't being compliant and feels he/she has the right to take physical action?

You know, it's just the little petty details like this that they leave out when convincing you all that it's all in the name of safety.  

Therefore certain safety measures need to be taken so that the safety measures that are in place don't become a threat to the safety of our children instead.  Sadly, this has become another harsh reality in this day and age.

If we let it get out of hand, our schools will more and more resemble prisons instead of places of learning.


So lets use a little bit of common sense in regards to this issue.  Yes we need them there for safety, but don't let them become the school disciplinarians because then they will become just as much a part of the problem.

Neighbors Say DHHS, Police Alerted Before Child’s Death



Former neighbors of a couple accused of fatally beating a 10-year-old girl said they heard abuse and reported it to police and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Julio and Sharon Carrillo were ordered held Wednesday on $500,000 cash bail during their first court appearance.

More >> Neighbors Say DHHS, Police Alerted Before Child’s Death

LePage administration to stop funding for child abuse prevention program Sept. 30

Gov. Paul LePage’s administration plans to stop funding a child abuse prevention program that works directly with at-risk families in individual neighborhoods across much of the state.

More >> LePage administration to stop funding for child abuse prevention program Sept. 30

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Maine Legislative Leaders Reject Bills To Arm Teachers, Impose More Gun Control

Leaders of the Maine Legislature Tuesday night agreed to allow bills aimed at boosting security at public schools to be considered this session, but refused to allow in a pair of bills aimed at limiting the damage a gun can do.

School safety was the issue leaders could agree on. They approved consideration of a $20 million bond issue to go to the voters for boosting school security. Windham Republican Rep. Patrick Corey sponsored that bill.

More >> Maine Legislative Leaders Reject Bills To Arm Teachers, Impose More Gun Control