Libby statement on Government Oversight Committee hearing:
AUGUSTA — The Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Ricker Hamilton appeared before the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee to answer questions regarding Maine’s child protection system and the tragic deaths of Kendall Chick and Marissa Kennedy. The Commissioner was subpoenaed before the Committee after failing to show up to a previous hearing.
Earlier this year, the Government Oversight Committee received an initial briefing from Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, an independent watchdog agency, which revealed several areas of concern and at least one major failure on the part of the state’s Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS). The Commissioner was called in to address a list of areas for concern or improvement put together by OPEGA at the request of the Committee.
Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Nate Libby, of Lewiston, who serves as the lead Senate Democrat on the Committee released the following statement:
“Today’s meeting marks an important step in our investigation into what exactly went wrong in Maine’s child protection system that led to the tragic deaths of two Maine children. While Commissioner Hamilton provided some much-needed insight, I still have significant concerns about widespread reports of dysfunction in the child protection intake system and I worry about the number of kids whose cases might have fallen through the cracks.
I have heard from mandated reporters in my district doing their best to identify and report potential cases of child abuse but face obstacles at every turn. We ought to be making it as easy as possible for mandated reporters to do their job.
If we are going to save more lives and transform our child protection system, the Legislature, the Department and the Governor must work quickly and collaboratively to implement a comprehensive solution.”
The Committee is scheduled to meet and continue their investigation on July 26 at 9:00 a.m.