AUGUSTA – State investigators faced a number of roadblocks as they tried to determine if and how the system failed a pair of murdered girls.
The alleged ongoing abuse of Kendall Chick, 4, who died in December of last year, and 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy, who died in February, sparked an investigation into the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. But to many, the findings of that analysis have sparked more questions than answers.
The legislature’s Government Oversight Committee ordered its investigative arm to delve into the department’s processes and procedures.
Among the hurdles facing investigators were federal and state confidentiality laws, as well as on-going criminal investigations.
“We knew that the expectation was that we’d be able to shed light on what happened here in a greater way that what we were able to today,” said Beth Ashcroft of the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability.
The senate chairman of the government oversight committee appeared annoyed at the lack of answers surrounding the deaths of the two young girls.
“I don’t know that anybody believes the perpetrator, the alleged perpetrators, of these crimes should have privacy rights that override the publics right to know,” Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, said.
One thing the report does not do is point blame at anyone within the state bureaucracy.
“You know, that’s what everybody’s looking for,” Ashcroft said. “Who didn’t do their jobs? I’m not sure there is anybody who didn’t do their job, necessarily. Did they do it as well necessarily? Maybe that’s a question.”
A hearing will be held next Thursday to get feedback from the public.
Potentially, lawmakers may look to legislative remedies to keep children from falling through the cracks in the system.
Thursday’s presentation of the report on the DHHS investigation is not the end of this issue. In fact, some are saying it’s just the beginning.
“We have kids who were abused today. Those same kids are abused while we are talking. And they’ll be abused tomorrow. So at what point do we say, ‘enough is enough?'” Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, asked.