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Maine Law Court calls out state for failing to provide services for disabled family

Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court has overturned a lower court order that terminated a mother-child relationship, ruling that the state failed to provide medical services to the child and the mother under MaineCare.

The ACLU and Disability Rights Maine filed an amicus brief with the Court last summer, arguing that the state inappropriately terminated the mother’s parental rights because she was unable to provide complex nursing care for her child that should have been available through MaineCare.

The Law Court agreed and asked the lower court to consider whether the mother had an intellectual disability that would have required the state to provide services to help her rehabilitate and reunite with her child.

Zach Heiden is with the ACLU of Maine. He says the ruling is a victory for disabled families all over Maine.

"This was a case about one family but the impacts will be widely felt. This case exposes massive failures in Maine’s child welfare system, a lack of resources to comply with the law, blatant disregard for the rights of people with disabilities. The court was quite clear that things need to change in Maine," Heiden said.

A spokesperson for the state said, "the Law Court’s decision highlights challenges in service availability that the Department [of Health and Human Services] continues to address. We welcome partnership with the Legislature, advocates, and others in finding solutions to support the needs of Maine children and families."