A recent story on efforts to improve Maine’s child protection system (“Legislators work urgently to fix child protection,” June 15, Page A1) referred to the debate in the Legislature “over family reunification versus the best interests of the child.” In reality, family reunification IS in the best interests of many children. For others, guardianship by a relative or adoption may be the best plan.

The challenge for the child protection system is to support safe reunification whenever possible while identifying those situations in which a child must be part of another family in order to be safe. This is best achieved by staffing the Department of Health and Human Services with well-trained social workers whose caseloads allow them enough time to determine the best interests of every child they serve.

Protecting Maine’s most vulnerable children is one of our state’s most basic responsibilities. Assuming that reunification is not in the best interests of many of these children is not the best way to meet that responsibility.

Every child has the right to grow up in a safe and permanent family. The Legislature might make better use of its time by providing DHHS with the resources and community supports necessary to carry out its mission of protecting children and strengthening families.

Diane Kindler