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Report finds Maine’s rate of repeated child maltreatment is twice the national average

Lawmakers on the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee on Wednesday vowed to step up their investigation into the state agency that's charged with protecting the safety of Maine children. And members of both parties questioned the leadership of the agency's director.

The Office of Child and Family Services has been under the microscope since 2018 when two children under its supervision died within the span of three months. And that scrutiny has continued in recent years following the deaths of four children in the summer of 2021.

And now members of the Government Oversight Committee are incensed about the findings of an internal review showing that Maine is below the national standard for preventing repeat cases of abuse and neglect and that the problem is getting worse.

According to that report, the rate at which children in Maine are experiencing repeated maltreatment is double the national average.

Lawmakers in both parties grilled Office of Child and Family Services director Todd Landry, who appeared before the oversight committee Wednesday.

Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio, a Democrat from Sanford, told Landry that the report reveals serious failures by his agency.

"If I was in your position I'd be asking myself, gee, am I providing the leadership that I should be," she said.

Landry responded by criticizing the media's framing of the report, which hey says focused too much on the agency's shortcomings instead of its achievements.

"Well of course they didn't because our children are dying at an amazing rate," said Republican Sen. Lisa Keim, of Dixfield.

That was Republican Sen. Lisa Keim, of Dixfield, who said she would take a vote of no confidence in Landry if that was an option.

Keim also urged the oversight committee to step up its probe of child protective services.

Members of the committee appeared to agree, and are expected to come up with a plan in the coming weeks.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.