AUGUSTA — Senator Chip Curry, D-Belfast, submitted a request Friday for the Government Oversight Committee to investigate the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) and Child Protective Services. Sen. Curry's request included a letter outlining his concerns.
“The death of a child is always tragic especially when it could have been prevented, like that of Maddox Williams of Stockton Springs,” said Sen. Curry. “The death of Maddox Williams is both heartbreaking and appalling. Tragically, several children in Maine died just last month. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child and Family Services and Child Protective Services has failed these children. Our Legislature needs to determine how to better support these families and save lives.”
The Government Oversight Committee oversees program evaluations, ensures accountability and that resources are being properly managed so that the state government is operating effectively.
In 2018, the Government Oversight Committee and the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability began an investigation into the child protection process. That investigation is ongoing.
The annual 2020 Child Welfare Ombudsman Report noted deficiencies in the department and detailed how the Office of Child and Family services struggles to protect Maine children in two prominent areas, per a news release.
The Ombudsman found OCFS has a hard time determining the child's safety in an initial investigation, a release noted.
The Office also struggles to make decisions about how to best reunify children with their parents, per the release.