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 Chair and Vice chair: Mark Moran, LCSW and Lawrence Ricci, MD
The panel consists of the following members: Chief Medical Examiner, pediatricians, public health nurses, 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 psychologists.
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 and SUID. In addition, an infant mortality subgroup is looking into infant mortality in Maine. 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. The team also recommended an amendment to the Maine midwifery law based on a review of home birth fatality. 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, individual panel members attend training and bring the information back to the team. Members have also said that 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.
Last Updated: January 2017