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LePage Signs Child Welfare Bills Into Law

Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law changes to child welfare legislation, which lawmakers approved last month in special session. The measures include spending millions of dollars more on the system.

The new legislation will add more than $21 million into child welfare, with $8 million immediately going to replace the state’s aging computerized case management system. The funding bill also provides raises for caseworkers, adds 16 new caseworker positions and allots increased funding for foster homes.

Additionally, one measure will now require “reasonable efforts” at family reunification, as opposed to the policy which saw keeping families intact in child welfare cases as a higher priority. Another measure will allow the department of Health and Human Services to retain records from unsubstantiated child welfare cases for up to five years and to obtain criminal history information.

Some parts of the legislation will not take effect until 90 days after this legislative session finally ends.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.