child abuse

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.

Governor LePage has released five bills to reform the child welfare system, following the deaths of two children last winter.

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


For months the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, or OPEGA, has been investigating Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). 

The inquiry follows the death of two children at the hands of caregivers – Kendall Chick and Marissa Kennedy. On Sunday, Portland Press Herald journalist Eric Russell reported that caseworkers within the department feel restricted in their ability to help children

In his weekly radio address, Gov. Paul LePage said that he will call a special session this summer to reform Maine's child protection system, following the abuse deaths of two girls last winter.

Lawmakers have been asking LePage for a copy of his proposed bill as soon as possible, but the Governor said they'll have to wait until they finish current work.

Maine Public

Gov. Paul LePage is crafting a bill that he says will improve Maine's child protection system.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Ricker Hamilton says he welcomes an outside review of the way the agency handles child abuse complaints.

Hamilton says the agency is already taking steps to rectify problems identified by the children’s welfare ombudsman, who has determined that the department’s assessment process has too often failed to move swiftly enough to protect children.

What Happens When Child Abuse Is Reported In Maine

Mar 5, 2018

When school officials and neighbors called the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to alert the agency about suspected abuse of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy, their reports entered a complex child welfare system.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

A recent report from the Maine Children's Ombudsman found that the Department of Health and Human Services failed to follow proper assessment policy in multiple child welfare cases, including children in their parents' care.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

The parents of 10-year-old girl in Stockton Springs who died from Battered Child syndrome are each being held on $500,000 bail after appearing in Waldo County Superior Court Wednesday.

Sharon and Julio Carrillo have each been charged with depraved indifference murder in the death of Marissa Kennedy, and, if convicted, could face life in prison. A former neighbor said he and others also witnessed abuse and repeatedly called police.

AUGUSTA, Maine - In ceremonies kicking off Child Abuse Awareness Month, Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew said that DHHS plans to launch a new initiative next year aimed at reducing child abuse.

Mayhew said there were more than 2,300 cases of child abuse and neglect reported in Maine last year.

"The number of reports of abuse are significant and the number of confirmed cases of abuse and neglect is intolerable," Mayhew said.

There's been an alarming spike in the number of child abuse cases in Maine. Data provided by the state Department of Health and Human Services, in response to a request by the Maine Sunday Telegram, show a 58 percent increase in confirmed cases of physical abuse of children between 2011 and 2013 - considerably higher than the national average. The most recently available national data show a rise of just 5 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Maine law enforcement and local child abuse prevention councils will participate in a variety of events throughout April for Child Abuse Prevention month.

Events planned for the month are designed to bring attention to the need to prevent child abuse and neglect and to recognize the community partnerships that work on the issue.  

Speaking at a State House event, Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew said that prevention begins in the community.