In then-Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew’s 2016 budget, a child’s right to be protected from abuse is virtually ignored. Maine’s 2016 record is in the annual federal child maltreatment report. Gaping omissions in the data Maine provided to the federal government include the number of child fatalities.
• Of Maine’s 225,000 children, in 2016, 3,446 child victims were maltreated by 3,158 perpetrators.
• Of the 1,626 children who received services, 799 received services beginning on or after the report date.
• It took an average of 99 days after the report until the child received services.
• About 23 calls a day, or 8,392 calls a year, were received through the child abuse hotline; 7,618 were screened out.
Three million dollars annually would provide for a weekly visit to 799 children – which means collateral contact with a child’s other lifelines. Not in Mary Mayhew’s 2016 budget.
Since December, caretakers have been accused, tried or sentenced in the killings of four children. The cause of one child’s death was changed from illness to murder; the child’s father is now in court. One child’s mother was sentenced for manslaughter for killing her child. A 4-year-old was murdered, allegedly by her grandfather’s girlfriend – whose caretaking skills likely were never assessed by DHHS. A 10-year-old died who was being beaten daily. Meanwhile, Mary Mayhew imagines she should be governor.
Ms. Mayhew’s recent Republican State Convention bluster that illegal immigrants “will get a knock on the door” from federal agents “with Maine State Police standing with them shoulder to shoulder” brings her disregard for children’s human rights full circle to disregard for anyone’s human rights. Breaking into homes with no search warrant is carefully restricted in this country.
In her DHHS tenure, when scrutiny of a child’s care was warranted, Mary Mayhew’s budget slashed it. Sound harsh to hold Mary Mayhew accountable for the neglect of children at her DHHS? Good.