Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center: “I will not sit idly by while this Administration systematically destroys successful services that protect our kids.”
By Ramona du Houx
Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center, D-Rockland, is submitting legislation to continue funding for the Community Partnerships for Protecting Children (CPPC) program.
Just days after a 10-year-old girl in Stockton Springs was murdered by her parents following months of horrific abuse, Republican Governor Paul LePage moved to end the CPPC program that works to prevent child abuse.
“Paul LePage has done a lot of shameful things as governor but attacking a program that protects Maine children from abuse may be one of his worst yet. In the wake of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy’s horrific death following months of abuse, the state should be considering more ways to combat child abuse – not taking steps to end programs that have helped curb the problem," said Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett.
For the past 10 years, CPPC has partnered with about 60 groups, including schools, nonprofits, law enforcement, local governments, churches and others to identify and help families at risk of abuse and neglect. The program costs approximately $2.2 million dollars.
“In the past three months, we have been witness to two tragic deaths of children at the hands of child abusers,” said Beebe-Center. “Why on earth would we be cutting well-respected programs and jeopardizing the lives of even more children? I will not sit idly by while this administration systematically destroys successful services that protect our kids.”
Throughout the legislative session, the Health and Human Services Committee has been considering a number of measures related to the health and safety of children. Just yesterday, the committee unanimously supported measures regarding fingerprinting requirements for childcare providers and strengthened rules proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services to allow for greater parental oversight. They also opposed several bills that would have weakened safety standards at childcare providers.
“There isn’t a single one of us who isn’t highly disturbed by the recent news reports,” said Rep. Patty Hymanson, D-York, House chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. “Every child deserves to be loved, cherished and kept safe from harm. Anyone in any position of authority needs to ask themselves if they are doing everything possible to maintain the highest standards when it comes to the safety, health and well-being of our kids.”
The Office of Child and Family Services, which oversees both the CPPC program and the childcare provider regulations, is currently served by Acting-Director Kirsten Capeless. DHHS Commissioner Ricker Hamilton has indicated that that he will not be appointing an official director of the division.
Beebe-Center presented her proposal, LR 2956 “An Act To Ensure the Continued Provision of Services to Maine Children and Families” to legislative leaders. If a majority of them approve, the full Legislature will have the opportunity to consider the bill.
Beebe-Center is a member of the Legislature’s Task Force to Address the Opioid Crisis in the State as well as the Committee on State and Local Government. She is serving her second term in the House and represents Rockland and Owls Head.