October 27, 2021

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Maine Voices: Maine’s little one welfare difficulties can be solved

The headline on a latest Push Herald story claims “Another child welfare crisis has gripped Maine. Is this a problem that can be solved?”

The reply is dependent on the definition of “solved.” If solved usually means that no baby will at any time die of abuse, then the answer is no. If solved indicates that no little one beforehand “known-to-the system” will at any time be fatally abused, the reply is nevertheless no – just as the law enforcement can’t halt every murder and the fireplace division just can’t stop every single fireplace.

But if the definition of solved is: Maine creates a process that can make it much less likely young children will be killed, or harmed in any other way, a process that serves as a design for the nation, then the response is indeed. We know this simply because, not that extended in the past, Maine had these types of a program.

It was 2011 when the Press Herald reported: “Observers say Maine’s baby welfare technique is now a nationwide model … Tracy Feild, of the Annie E. Casey Basis, stated … “Maine was not on the map as becoming a chief in the previous … Now they are seen as obtaining definitely excellent results.”

The Casey Basis was not on your own in that evaluation. In 2009, Harvard’s Kennedy College of Govt named Maine’s boy or girl welfare reform a finalist for its Improvements in American Government award.

What went proper then, and why is it likely improper now? The responses are rooted in how Maine has responded to boy or girl welfare tragedies.

In 2001, following Logan Marr was killed by her foster mom (who also was a child welfare caseworker) Maine eventually discovered the suitable lessons. When John Baldacci grew to become governor two many years soon after Logan’s demise, he introduced in visionary leaders who comprehended that you can not resolve these challenges just by likely on caseworker selecting binges or toughening licensing requirements.

Baldacci’s management team comprehended that the heart of the dilemma was that Maine was having absent much much too a lot of little ones needlessly – usually, as with Logan Marr, when spouse and children poverty was baffled with neglect. Baldacci’s leadership staff bolstered help for impoverished people, radically lessened the use of the worst sort of treatment, group households and institutions, and, when foster care really was necessary, considerably improved placements with family rather of strangers. Numerous studies have found these types of placements are greater for children’s perfectly-becoming, a lot more steady, and, most important, safer than what must effectively be referred to as stranger care.

But then arrived Paul LePage. Maine’s respond to to Donald Trump experienced the exact same method to family members in Maine as Trump had to families at the Mexican border. His steep cuts in social companies, which include programs qualified toward people at chance of abuse, put together with demagogic rhetoric scapegoating efforts to continue to keep people jointly, sent caseloads soaring all over again.  Even as the amount of vulnerable households increased, staff experienced much less time to uncover them.

That manufactured tragedies such as the fatalities of Marissa Kennedy and Kendall Chick extra possible. But soon after these fatalities, LePage doubled-down on failure, the moment yet again scapegoating endeavours to retain households alongside one another. As soon as once more, caseworkers rushed to tear apart more households.

The new Push Herald tale claimed that “The dramatic rise in the variety of little ones in condition custody suggests the point out is carrying out greater in eradicating little ones from unsafe homes …” On the opposite, it indicates foster-care worry, a sharp, unexpected surge in needless removals of children, even more overloading workers and making extra likely tragedies this kind of as the dying of Maddox Williams.

You just cannot repair this by turning youngster welfare into its individual agency that’s just rearranging the deck chairs. You just can’t deal with it just by choosing extra caseworkers. All the new employees wind up chasing all the new situations brought on by the foster-treatment worry and all you get is the similar awful procedure, only bigger. And you can not correct it by additional traumatizing families by now underneath surveillance by family policing companies by ratcheting up that surveillance.

You can only make kids safer with a laser target on ending the confusion of poverty with neglect, stopping the most current wave of unnecessary spouse and children destruction, and providing personnel the time to locate the quite couple children in serious danger in advance of it is too late. In other terms, Maine desires to learn the lessons of Logan Marr – all over again.

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