Maine Health Department To Take New Child Protection Steps

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine's health department said Tuesday it would make changes, including working more closely with hospitals and law enforcement agencies to improve child safety protection in the state.

The announcement came a few days after Casey Family Services recommended that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services establish joint protocols with law enforcement, hospitals and child welfare staff in suspected cases of neglect or abuse. Casey Family Services had been tasked with investigating the deaths of five children in a single month.

The health department said Tuesday it would also collaborate with behavioral health providers and legal experts to create guidance for health care providers who serve parents in the child welfare system. Other new steps include evaluating standby and after-hours staffing in the state.

The department also announced a plan to add parents who have experience in the child welfare system to training teams.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said the changes "strengthen collaboration among partners who can help keep children safe and advance our work to improve the child welfare system now and over the long term.”