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Senate Approves Measure Breaking Up DHHS, Creating New Department of Children and Family Services

Darren Fishell
Bangor Daily News/file

The Maine Senate has approved a measure that would break up the Department of Health and Human Services, the largest in state government, and create a new Department of Children and Family Services.

Lawmakers have long been critical of the way DHHS provides services to families and children. In recent years the legislature has approved increases in staff, including child protective workers. Democratic Senator Susan Deschambault of Biddeford is a retired social worker.

“I find the Department of Health and Human Service so large, so large, there is credibility to really investigate a Department of Children and Family Services,” Deschambault says.

Opponents of creating a new agency argue that the legislation is premature, as the Government Oversight Committee is reviewing the way the state provides services to children and families and is expected to release its findings later this year. The Mills Administration also opposes the measure, which has yet to be taken up in the House.

"I am looking forward to what we can learn from the Government Oversight Committee and the option to write new legislation in January, if that is the recommendation of that committee,” says Democratic Senator Ned Claxton from Auburn.