AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has announced that its Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services has begun hiring additional investigators to ensure that licensed child care providers abide by state regulations and provide a safe environment for the children in their care.
Kenneth Albert, director of the DLRS, said that current staff caseloads do not align with national standards. Sixteen positions will be added to the Children’s Licensing and Investigation Unit by leveraging Federal Block Grant funding. Once fully staffed, the unit will employ 25 investigators, resulting in a caseload reduction from an average of 180 cases to 80.
“While parents must be diligent about monitoring the care provided to their children, the work of our investigators can provide parents and guardians a certain level of confidence when it comes to selecting a child care provider,” Albert said. “A license to provide child care is a privilege, and it is our responsibility to ensure that licensed providers adhere to the quality standards that are reflected in the laws and regulations governing their operation.”
Albert said that the DLRS has been looking carefully at systems, staffing, policies and procedures over the last two years to strengthen overall performance. Staff restructuring, policy changes and efforts to improve public access to information have been or are being addressed.
Along with hiring new investigators, the DLRS is developing a publically facing web portal that can be used to research licensed providers. The portal will provide information the provider’s licensure status and a history of any licensing actions, including access to statements of deficiencies and plans of correction related to each licensing action. It is anticipated that this will be available early next year.
The DLRS also has established a child care licensing advisory panel to review practices that are deficient to determine whether licensing action is appropriate. The panel will advise the recommended action, including license revocation when appropriate. The panel is comprised of investigators, DLRS management, representatives from the Office of the Attorney General and other relevant licensing personnel.
When conducting investigations of abuse and neglect, DLRS will inform parents and guardians about the nature of the allegation and what they can expect during and after the investigation.
“It is our responsibility to inform parents of any situation that potentially may impact their child, and we are committed to doing that,” said Albert, in a press release. “There is a distinct value for parents to select a licensed child care provider and the way that value is maintained and strengthened is through effective oversight and sharing of information.”
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