Family reunification law takes effect

Published 12-22-2018

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A new Maine law calls for state officials to make "reasonable efforts" to keep families together instead of making it a "priority" as required by previous law.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage and lawmakers pressed for the bills after the deaths of two girls, 4-year-old Kendall Chick in December in Wiscasset and 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy in Stockton Springs in February.

The law continues to say Maine should prevent "needless delay" for permanent plans for children when family rehabilitation and reunification isn't possible.

Democratic Sen. Bill Diamond said the new law makes clear that a child shouldn't be reunified with their parents if it would be dangerous.

Claire Berkowitz of the Maine Children's Alliance expressed concern about the legislation and said fewer families were reunified in Maine in 2015 compared to 2013.

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