Child Welfare

Levels of Care

Levels of Care is the process for assessing the service needs of all Maine children currently in foster care and new children entering foster care. Implementation began in May 2003. The goal of Levels of Care is to have all children in foster care are regularly assessed in a standardized way. This will both to support the appropriate level of care and service in the least restrictive setting possible and assure that care and services delivered are supporting the goal of permanency for each child.

All children placed in DHHS foster homes or contracted agency foster homes will be assigned a Level of Care (LOC) ranging from A to E based on their individual needs reflected in the child assessments.  Scheduled re-assessments of all children will occur regularly to determine their LOC.  The LOC Assessment System includes service provider requirements (for both foster parents and child placing agencies) based on each child's level of need and standardized reimbursement for foster parents, directly relating reimbursement to the needs of individual children.

The Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) Office of Child and Family Services is committed to the well being of Maine's children and families. Children need families and our services seek to preserve families and keep children safe. In instances where children come into foster care, Child and Family Services strives for the least restrictive setting possible for their care. It is preferred, for example, that children live close to their home community and with relative caregivers when possible. Meeting the child's needs by minimizing disruption and trauma while offering appropriate help and service - is the goal of Child and Family Service social workers, foster parents and service providers.

Levels of Care Rules

Levels of Care Mission Statement

The Levels of Care Committee has a commitment to the well being of children. We believe that generally children are best served by their families and therefore services are provided to support the preservation of the family unit. However, the safety of children is paramount and as such at times it is necessary for them to be removed from the home. In these cases, a placement will be selected which promotes the highest level of independent functioning the child is able to achieve. The Department will offer a continuum of care by which children in need of placement outside their homes will enter the most appropriate, normalized living environment. Preferably this placement will be in close proximity to the child's home community. In this respect, it is hoped that not only will their needs be met but at the same time the disruption and trauma to them minimized. Substitute care for children ranges from the most normalized setting of relative and family foster care through therapeutic care; group home care, residential treatment centers and hospitalization.

The purpose of all substitute care settings, in addition to ensuring a child's safety and well being, is to effect positive change enabling the child to live in a permanent family setting, independently or in the most normalized community setting. In order to ensure that children in the care and custody of the Department are placed in the most normalized setting that meets their needs, the Department shall assess each child in order to determine the appropriate level of care and services to meet that child's needs as indicated above. This assessment process will work toward insuring the child's initial placement meets the above criteria. It will also be a continuing process whereby the child moves to the most normalized living environment where well being and permanency needs of the children will be periodically reassessed.

Levels of Care Contact Information

For additional information, please contact:

Levels of Care Program Manager
Maine Department of Health & Human Services
Office of Child & Family Services
SHS #11
Augusta, ME  04333

Phone: (207) 624-7900