“We’re not making progress,” said Sen. Diamond in the interview. “Kids are being abused, right now, while you and I are talking. They’re being abused terribly. The only reason we don’t know who they are is because they haven’t died yet.”
The segment, which highlighted the challenges faced by child protective services workers across the country, included an interview with Sen. Diamond and highlighted his bill, LD 1554, “Resolve, Establishing a Commission To Reform Child Protective Services,” which seeks to establish a legislative commission to study and hold public hearings regarding the laws governing the protection of vulnerable children in state care, and propose necessary changes.
Data provided by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year shows that since 2017, more than 20 children have died after the state received concerns about abuse or neglect involving their families. Four of those deaths were ruled to be homicides.
The deaths of two children in the state’s Child Protective Services system, Kendall Chick of Wiscasset in December 2017 and Marissa Kennedy of Stockton Springs in February 2018, spurred the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee to open an investigation into the Office of Child and Family Services within the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The resulting information brief, “Frontline Workers in the State Child Protective System: Perspectives on Factors That Impact Effectiveness and Efficiency of Child Protective Work,” was released in February 2019, and highlighted that the workers in that office were overburdened and did not feel that they could accomplish the job within a normal 40-hour workweek.
LD 1554 has been carried over until the next Legislative Session and will face votes in the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee during the Second Regular Session of the 129th Legislature.
WATCH: Heartbreaking reality of CPS caseworkers