Child abuse series, part three 7.9.2021



PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) – Community advocates across Maine are calling for systemic change and more accountability to protect children from what they call a broken child welfare system. Concluding his series, Shawn Cunningham gives an account of the bureaucracy and what needs to happen to create systemic change and protect more children from abuse.


In the last two days since this series aired, viewer comments have swirled around expressing frustration with the Department of Health and Human Services. One viewer wrote: “THERE MUST BE A SYSTEMIC CHANGE WITHIN THE DHHS DEPARTMENT … They went on to say ‘A PARENT MAY REFUSE A DRUG TEST AVOID ANSWERING THEIR PHONE OR ANSWERING THEIR DOOR WHEN THEY ARE THEY. KNOW THAT AN ESSENTIAL ASSISTANT TO CONTACT THEM ”.

In recent years, state lawmakers have approved funding to hire more social workers, supervisors and child welfare workers … a sequel to the murders of 4-year-old Kendall Chick and Marissa Kennedy, 10 years old. Despite the additional staff and manpower, some lawmakers say the issues with DHHS are far from over.

Senator Bill Diamond (R) State of Maine Senator

“I want the department to admit the system is broken and let’s fix it together, that’s all I’m asking, but they won’t admit it’s broken until they do, we can’t. not change. “

Senator Trey Stewart (R) State of Maine Senator

“The problem is, from my point of view, they’re trying to do too many things in too many different areas to be really effective in this one, but this is the one where if you fail there are dire consequences. “

Shawn Cunningham NO STANDING

But it is clear that some cases fall through the cracks. Diamond drafted a bill and Stewart signed with him… to make changes within DHHS. But in the final wise vote … NO GO.


“it was passed in the Senate by a huge vote, but when it was tabled in the House the ministry worked really hard to kill this bill … for a minute they heard experts talk about their problems and time and time again they seem to either ignore them or simply fail to implement them.


DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said: “Their aim is to take a broad look at not only child welfare, but also our public health and health systems to see if there are models or practices that we should change as soon as possible “, Still the department ADDED 130 additional employees to its Office of Child and Family Services between January 2019 and February of last year. To that Diamond said …


“You just can’t hire people and integrate them.

“We’ve had death after death after these kids have died and every time the department says they’re going to fix it and it’s very frustrating …”

Shawn Cunningham, NS 8.

Some community resources in Aroostook County are:

Aroostook Council for Healthy Families 877-207-2300

Hope and Justice Project 1-800-439-2323

Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office (207) 532-3471

Aroostook Children’s Advocacy Center 207-472-6134

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