Lawrence Ricci’s “Maine Voices” piece is a call for us all to work together to protect vulnerable children and support struggling families (“Preventing child abuse, neglect will require all of us working together,” June 11). Dr. Ricci’s points are well taken and his work, along with that of other child abuse pediatricians, could not be more needed at this time. Without accurate clinical assessment and the coordinated efforts of all who have contact with children and their families, we would lose even more children to abuse and neglect.

Also critical are resources for families — jobs, child care, housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment and parenting support — and a well-staffed, trained, and managed child protection system which can respond to reports, carefully assess child safety and parental competence, engage families, and make the tough decisions that are required to ensure child safety.

While Gov. Paul LePage has stated his concern for protecting abused children, workers under his administration have experienced increasing caseloads while funding for preventive services has not kept up with the need.

The second phase of the OPEGA assessment will further reveal the gaps in funding, resources, training and management that have contributed to the system’s failure to prevent child fatalities.

This could take months and our children shouldn’t have to wait. The public and our state legislators should demand greater transparency from key child protection agencies, better funding to ensure that workers have manageable caseloads, quality supervision and training, and clear policies that guide their work. Our children and families deserve no less.

Pamela Day of Portland is a retired social worker who worked previously as the director of Child Welfare Standards and the Child Welfare League of America in Washington.

Comments are no longer available on this story