Honors College

Child Maltreatment in the State of Maine: A Study of State Policy

Charlotte Howson


The issue of child maltreatment is a devastating and heart wrenching phenomena seen throughout society in every area of the world. The capacity of individual governments to form policies that are able to efficiently and accurately executed is crucial in combating the social evils of child abuse. This study focuses on existing Maine state policy and describes how social workers in particular strive to uphold, incorporate and even interpret this policy to protect the youth of Maine. A total of 5 interviews were conducted with both social workers and other employees of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Interviews identified past cases involving both neglect and overt abuse of children. Case Workers were asked to give their understanding and interpretation of state policy and to explain the process of applying this policy and how it influences their day-to-day work. Challenges faced by social workers centered on inadequate funding, large case-loads, and the complicated nature of efficiently implementing policy so that it works not only on paper but in practice. Limitations to this study include the small number of employees interviewed as well as the inherently unique and often complicated nature of each case. Through this study future Social Workers as well as Maine citizens will gain a better understanding of the child welfare system, and it is my hope that this knowledge will lead to advocacy for policy and model changes that will ultimately lead to policies that are effective not only in theory but in actuality.