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Union Says Reduce Caseloads To Improve Maine's Child Protection System

The labor union that represents Maine’s child protective caseworkers has released 10 recommendations to improve the state’s child protection system.

At the top of the list, says union-retiree Board Director and former caseworker Peggy Rice, is to reduce caseloads to no more than 12 per worker. Rice says that means more caseworkers need to be hired.

"So that you can actually do your job the way that you're supposed to do it and feel safe about doing it, both for you and for the vulnerable people who are relying on you,” she says.

Rice also says a top need is to hire more administrative support staff so caseworkers can focus on children and families.

"Just to have help with getting letters out, getting documentation out, getting court forms filled out,” she says. “I mean, there's a lot of things. Even having the appropriate staff to screen phone calls and that kind of thing."

Governor LePagerecently sparred with the union over allegations that employees' concerns aren't being heard. But a spokesperson for LePage said in a written statement that the Governor welcomes caseworkers' suggestions, and that several bills currently being crafted include plans to impove technology, training and support. Some staff positions will also be included, and additional staff will be built into the next biennial budget.

Maine's child protection system has been under scrutiny following two child abuse deaths last December and February.

Updated August 15, 2018, 4:48 p.m.