Like everyone in Maine, the child welfare community was deeply saddened and stunned at the death of five-year-old Logan Marr in 2001. The only fitting response to a tragic death like Logan's is an investigation of the system and a commitment to remedying any avoidable mistakes. That is what we have been doing and continue to do today.
Child Services in Maine has changed forever as a result. Change needed to come, and Maine lawmakers acted: more supervisory and casework staff; quality targets for safely reducing the number of children in care; increased family and community involvement and a commitment to more care with relatives.
Two years later, change is apparent. Maine has 150 fewer children in care, among a foster care census of about 3200. Care with relatives is up modestly, with a target increase of 25 percent by October 2003. The skill-building and policy improvements to connect with families and help them change are taking hold. That said, we realize that truly reforming a child welfare system takes time and requires greater involvement by state and city leaders, police, doctors and hospitals, courts, mental health professionals and social workers from community groups, as well as parents and ordinary citizens.
We are trying to pay tribute to Logan's life by doing everything possible to ensure her tragedy is not repeated. Our firm commitment is to a future of safety for our children, constant improvement in the services we provide and expanded public involvement and assistance in doing this difficult and essential work.
For more information about our system and what you can do to help, go to http://www.state.me.us/dhs/bcfs/index.htm.
Karen Westburg, Director, Maine Bureau of Child and Family Services