State Spotlight - Maine
Last updated: July 2012
Children’s Justice Act & Title IV-B Coordinator
Department of Health and Human Service, OCFS
2 Anthony Avenue
11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0011
Phone: (207) 207-624-7942
Fax: (207) 287-6156
Dr. Steve Meister
Chair, Child Death and Serious Injury Review Panel
- Report of the State of Maine Child Death and
Serious Injury Review Panel
- Child Abuse and Child Death and Serious Injury
The Maine Child Death and Serious Injury Review Panel was established by statute (Title 22, section 4004) in 1992. The panel is housed through the Department of Health and Human Services. There are two staff members for the Panel which is funded by the Children’s Justice Act.
Maine has a state level review system. Maine joined other New England states to form a consortium of Northern New England child fatality review teams. Additionally, the coordinator for the Panel coordinates two related Panels, the Child Abuse Action Network and the Citizen's Review Panel.
State Team Chairperson: Dr. Stephen Meister
The panel consists of the following members: the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, a pediatrician, a public health nurse, forensic and community mental health clinicians, law enforcement officers, departmental child welfare staff, district attorneys, domestic violence specialist and criminal or civil assistant attorneys general.
Cases are identified for review from a variety of sources. Some come
from public health nursing, social services, law enforcement and sometimes
The Panel meets every month for approximately three hours. All panel
members are given the time to attend the review meetings by their public or
private sector employers. Panel members volunteer their time to read
the voluminous case record materials before each case review.
The panel reviews cases of suspected child abuse and neglect as well as
adolescent suicides. Cases for review are identified by pediatricians
and Children's Protective Services. The Panel can subpoena records
for the review process. Team information is not subject to
discovery. Deaths to children less than 18 years old are reviewed.
The purpose of the panel is to recommend to state and local agencies methods of improving the child protection system, including modifications of statutes, rules, policies and procedures and to promote public health and prevent future tragedies.
Standardized data collection forms collection forms are completed on each
case reviewed. This is not required by statute. Data is stored
on disc. The panel does have access to state vital statistics.
The staff person to the panel utilizes DHS Vital Records to collect/verify
family vital records information on each case reviewed.
Aggregate data collected by the panel is utilized in periodic public reports published by the Panel. Additionally, each case review results in a confidential Executive Summary for the DHS commissioner. This summary contains findings and recommendations. The Department responds to the recommendations in writing.
The panel findings have motivated prevention activities in the state including the "Never Shake a Baby" public awareness campaign and the Period of Purple Crying Campaign. . A future public service campaign will focus on safe sleeping practices including the potential hazards of adults co-sleeping with infants. Additionally, the Panel has worked to develop scene investigation protocol with the Medical Examiner, State Police and Child Welfare.
Maine's Child Death and Serious Injury Review Panel has meeting and
confidentiality protocols in place.
Training is not offered. However, panel members have said one of the
important aspects of each review is the "seminar" nature of
information/collaboration among the panel members, who have wide-ranging
areas of expertise, which they bring to each case review's
discussion. Individual panel members also provide training on child
welfare related issues in various statewide and national venues.