Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Maine mother sues DHHS in federal court seeking contact with daughter

An Eddington woman is asking a federal judge to force the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to allow her contact with her 7-year-old daughter, who is living with her father’s girlfriend in Ellsworth under an agency safety plan.

Toni Barronton, 33, claims that DHHS violated her right to due process after it reneged on a decision to let the girl live with her temporarily after her father, Patrick Lynn, 32, allegedly violated his probation by using drugs.

More >> Maine mother sues DHHS in federal court seeking contact with daughter

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Active shooter training helps first responders prepare for worst case scenario


Tragically, school shootings are happening too often in the United States.

So far in 2019, there have already been 12 school shootings in which someone was hurt or killed. That's according to Education Week, a independent news organization covering K-12 education.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

New Task Force Aims To Improve Maine's Juvenile Justice System

Maine's Chief Justice Leigh Saufley joined civil rights and children's advocates, lawmakers and members of Gov. Janet Mills' cabinet for the first meeting of a newly-created task force to examine Maine's juvenile justice system.

The 30-member task force will be looking at a alternatives to juvenile incarceration. Justice Saufley says a similar task force achieved success ten years ago by slashing the number of kids in detention in Maine but she says it never met a second goal to establish a community-based system of treatment and placement programs.

More >> New Task Force Aims To Improve Maine's Juvenile Justice System

Friday, May 17, 2019

Amid calls for faster child welfare system reforms, Mills plans a hiring surge

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, in her proposed two-year budget, is heeding advice from an auditor of the state’s child protective system by proposing the state hire more caseworkers.

The budget amendments, announced on Tuesday, add $2.8 million to the $8 billion budget proposal, in money to hire 62 new staff in the Office of Child and Family Services — 43 caseworkers, six background check unit staff and 13 positions in intake, which handles calls and reports of suspected abuse or neglect.

More >> Amid calls for faster child welfare system reforms, Mills plans a hiring surge

Maine Senate OKs expanded testing for lead in school water

The Maine Senate is unanimously supporting a proposal to provide more comprehensive testing for lead in school drinking water.

The Senate approved the proposal by Democratic Sen. Rebecca Millett, of Cape Elizabeth, on Thursday. Millett's bill is designed to require all schools to test drinking and cooking water for lead contamination.

More >> Maine Senate OKs expanded testing for lead in school water

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Maine Senate OKs end to non-medical opt-outs for vaccines

Maine has moved one step closer to ending the state's religious and philosophical exemptions to vaccines with the Democratic-led Senate's 18-17 vote on a bill Tuesday.

The bill to end the exemptions now faces a round of procedural votes in both chambers before heading to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills' desk. The bill narrowly moved forward with a vote from Democratic Sen. James Dill, who had previously backed an effort to protect Maine's religious exemptions.

More >> Maine Senate OKs end to non-medical opt-outs for vaccines

Mills adds child welfare caseworkers, opioid crisis to budget request

Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday unveiled amendments to her two-year, $8 billion budget proposal that would significantly boost the state’s child protective services system, add treatment and prevention funding for the opioid crisis and further invest in mental health services.

“This change package prioritizes pressing investments needed to protect children’s safety, to repair crumbling schools, to pay back the previous administration’s debt, and to save money in the event of an economic downturn,” Mills, a Democrat, said in a statement. “These changes address critical needs, reflect decisions made in the first four months, and build on my pragmatic budget proposal to deliver a solid economic foundation and the initiatives Maine people want and our state needs. I look forward to working with lawmakers as the budget process begins in earnest.”

More >> Mills adds child welfare caseworkers, opioid crisis to budget request

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Young and on their own in Maine

An invisible trend, fed by an affordable housing crisis and opioid epidemic, has led to a record high in homeless students – and a 227 percent spike in children without a guardian.

More >> Young and on their own in Maine

Saturday, May 11, 2019

This Bangor school secludes and restrains kids more than almost any other in Maine

Kyle Michaud took a job as an education technician at the Bangor Regional Program in May 2016 thinking it would help him become a teacher. But he didn’t expect to spend so much time dragging students down the hallway and shutting them into small rooms.

He remembers one morning in January 2018 when he barked orders to restrain a middle-school student in the bathroom after the student’s behavior became dangerous.

More >> This Bangor school secludes and restrains kids more than almost any other in Maine

As new leaders take over Maine’s child welfare system, caseworkers say they’re still ‘drowning’

In the 15 or so months since two Maine children died from abuse in their homes despite having had repeated contact with child welfare caseworkers, state leaders have vowed to reform the beleaguered system.

But deployment of those reforms, gleaned from two separate investigations into the department — one of which is still ongoing — after the deaths of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy and 4-year-old Kendall Chick, have hit bureaucratic snags.

More >> As new leaders take over Maine’s child welfare system, caseworkers say they’re still ‘drowning’

Monday, May 6, 2019





I declared today, May 6, 2019, as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Maine. Let us reaffirm our commitment to ensuring every child is living a safe and healthy life in their homes and in their communities.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Government intervention in child care continues to hamper its affordability

Expanding access to affordable child care is of pressing concern to many Maine families. As we’ve noted in the past, Maine lost more than 600 child care providers between 2008 and 2018, most of them in family child care. This is typically the most affordable option for parents, meaning their exit from the market has hurt the affordability of this service. According to Child Care Aware of America, in 2018, the annual cost of center-based care for a four-year-old in Maine was $8,776.

Legislators are often asked to tackle this problem, but more often the not, the so-called solutions end up making matters worse. One such effort this legislative session is LD 1012, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Millett, a bill that would tweak subsidies for families who qualify for assistance through DHHS and prioritize public funding for providers that have a higher rating on Maine’s quality rating scale.

More >> Government intervention in child care continues to hamper its affordability

Maine will provide records on Long Creek suicide attempts to advocacy group

The Maine Department of Corrections has agreed to turn over records pertaining to suicide attempts at the Long Creek Youth Development Center to an advocacy group for people with disabilities.

Disability Rights Maine, the state’s officially designated advocate for people with disabilities, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court last year alleging that the state was violating federal law by refusing the group access to the facility’s records of suicide attempts.

More >> Maine will provide records on Long Creek suicide attempts to advocacy group

Religious exemption to vaccination wouldn’t be keeping the faith

A day after the Maine Senate's passage of a bill preserving the exemption, faith leaders and others say no major religious organizations oppose vaccinations to prevent infectious diseases.

More >> Religious exemption to vaccination wouldn’t be keeping the faith

Friday, May 3, 2019

Governor Mills brings back 'Children's Cabinet'

Governor Janet Mills promised during her inauguration to bring back the “Children's Cabinet” and on Thursday, the first meeting was held since 2010.

Senator Angus King created the cabinet when he was governor, for government agencies to collaborate on policies to support Maine children.

More >> Governor Mills brings back 'Children's Cabinet'

Yay.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Caregiver convicted in beating death of 4-year-old girl

A Wiscasset woman accused of fatally beating a 4-year-old girl in her care was convicted Tuesday in a case that led to changes in Maine’s child welfare system.

Calling the abuse “outrageous, revolting, shocking and brutal,” Superior Court Justice William Stokes announced that he found 44-year-old Shawna Gatto to be guilty of depraved indifference murder in the death of Kendall Chick in her home in December 2017.

More >> Caregiver convicted in beating death of 4-year-old girl