In their op-ed piece, “Maine needs to repair its child welfare system again,” Mary Callahan and Richard Wexler rightly point out the importance of keeping children with their families when it can be done safely. Their concern for the increased numbers of children being removed from their families also deserves attention.

In my view there has been a concerted effort by the Legislature and the current administration to return the agency to better child welfare practice after years of poor management and financial starvation by the LePage administration. By adding many new caseworkers, additional supervisors and an improved information system, while reinstating a training program for staff and strengthening relationships with community providers, DHHS has moved to improve the child welfare system. It’s plans also draw down federal funding for additional family preservation services.

No one wants to “tear children from their families,” especially for reasons of poverty alone. That’s why our focus must be on increasing supports and services for at-risk families. Now more than ever – when the most vulnerable families are faced with extraordinary challenges – we must come together to help them stay together safely.