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Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Investigations in Maine

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Investigations in Maine

DHHS Investigation Defense

In Maine, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), or “the Department” is in charge of Child Protective Services (CPS). DHHS is tasked with ensuring the well-being of children, investigating allegations of abuse and neglect, and removing children from abusive and dangerous situations. The Department itself has frequently been brought under fire and legal review for poor procedures, questionable enforcement, and actions that have resulted in the deaths of several children. For this reason, it is important to take Maine CPS investigations seriously but never to assume that the Department has the best interests of you or your children at heart.

Why Does Maine CPS Investigate?

Maine CPS will launch a child welfare investigation if they receive information indicating that abuse or neglect of a child is occurring. The Department will first review the complaint (which may be submitted anonymously) to determine whether it would meet the statutory definitions of abuse and/or neglect. You may be surprised that DHHS will unfairly come down on one side in certain family law situations although they will deny it.

Following the investigation, the Department may do one of the following:

  1. File a court case against you to remove your child from your custody and eventually terminate your parental rights and responsibilities.
  2. “Substantiate” you for severe abuse or neglect of your child.
  3. Make a referral to social service agencies, which will initiate services and impose control of your family situation.
  4. “Indicate” you for abuse or neglect of your child.

CPS will alert police if any evidence or allegations of criminal acts arise during their investigation. The police become involved if there are allegations of sexual assault, drug abuse, or other illegal behavior. Often DHHS and the police will conduct joint investigations. Children are commonly interviewed at a “Child Advocacy Center” which is a fusion of DHHS and police resources to conduct forensic recorded interviews of children.

What Are “Substantiations” And “Indications”?

CPS may send a letter to the parent stating that the report of abuse or neglect was found to be “substantiated” or “indicated.”  Substantiation and indications are official but non-public records, which can be used to retain otherwise unfounded accusations in official DHHS files.

“Substantiations” are used in a variety of ways. Substantiations may not seem very important as the Department merely sends you a letter giving you notice that you have been “substantiated” for child abuse or neglect. It is sent through the regular mail and can appear routine to the uninitiated. You must respond or you will have defaulted. The result of the finding substantiation far outweighs the rather casual way the Department imposes these sanctions.

Substantiations can be used to deny adoptions, child placements, and professional licenses, and they can even be weaponized to affect child contact issues between parents.

You can also submit additional information to the department, including your own statement, witness statements, and other documentation. A substantiation may be downgraded to an “Indication.” Substantiations are administratively appealed but include ultimately, a right to appeal in a court. Substantiations can and should be fought.

Contact STEVE SMITH Trial Lawyers

If you are being investigated by Maine CPS, or have temporarily lost custody of your children due to anonymous allegations of abuse or neglect made against you, you may feel like you are up against an unbeatable monster. It is important to protect yourself and the best interests of your child and family by retaining experienced legal counsel as soon as possible in the CPS investigation process. Our attorneys are experienced at helping families navigate the CPS investigation process, as well as defending individuals against false accusations of abuse or neglect. Contact STEVE SMITH Trial Lawyers and start regaining control over your life. Schedule a consultation today.

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