Paul LePage is telling mandated reporters to report suspected child abuse. As a mandated reporter myself, I am being told by him: “Do not check with your supervisor or talk to colleagues. Just report it.” I can assure our governor that we, as mandated reporters, are all making those calls – and thanks for the sound advice.

What the governor does not understand is how many of these calls we all have made to the Department of Health and Human Services, over the seven years of his administration, to both Child and Adult Protective Services – how many hours we’ve waited on hold, how many days we’ve waited for calls back and how many complaints we’ve seen simply go unanswered.

I would encourage our governor and legislators to listen to mandated reporters, who have expertise in child and elder abuse. Listen when we tell them that by continually gutting support services for families and cutting funding for substance abuse and mental health facilities, it is contributing to the abuse. Listen when we tell them that increasing caseloads for child protective workers and decreasing access to quality and timely supervision are contributing to lack of follow-up on suspected abuse.

We as a state need to fund preventive and support services if we want to see cases of child and elder abuse decrease. I’ve been a social worker in Maine for almost 30 years. I’ve seen the positive results when we as a state provide adequate funding and support to DHHS and evidence-based programs that support families and support workers to help struggling families and individuals.

Cutting funding and telling mandated reporters to make calls is not the answer. We are already doing our jobs. We need our governor and legislators to listen to experts and provide funding to support families and individuals. Reporting suspected abuse is important, but preventive and follow-up services are how real change happens.

Maryann Carroll