System Improvement Updates

Bringing Accountability and Transparency to Child and Family Services Through Data

The Maine Office of Child & Family Services (OCFS) is pleased to announce the publication of key data points in the areas of child welfare, children’s behavioral health, and early childhood education, marking an unprecedented step towards transparency of this kind in Maine.

These regularly updated measures focus on key outcomes and indicators for OCFS. They include Federally required measures as well as data metrics developed by OCFS. By making these metrics publicly available, OCFS will be better able to work with the public, including stakeholders and clients, to continue to move our work forward to ensure that all Maine children and families are safe, stable, happy, and healthy.

The data metrics included in the new OCFS Key Measures Dashboard are outlined below. All reports are displayed in a consistent format and allow the user to review both current and prior data. Users are able to drill down to county- or District-level data. Where the metric is Federally required, the Dashboard lists the National Standard set by the Federal government. Data will be updated monthly and date back 1 year.

  • Child Welfare:
    • Federally Required Measures: The following three Federally required measures were selected as key indicators regarding the child welfare system:
      • Safety While in State Custody: Monitors all children in State custody during a 12-month period and the rate of victimization per day in State custody.
      • Permanency in 12 Months: Details the agency’s ability to reunify or place children in safe and permanent homes as soon as possible after removal, pursuant to Federal guidelines.
      • Success in Permanency: Indicates whether the agency’s programs and practice are effective in supporting reunification and other permanency goals, so children do not return to State custody.
    • Children removed within one year of an assessment with no findings: A non-Federally required measure that monitors if assessments are being conducted thoroughly to ensure the safety of children and youth.
    • Children in DHHS State Custody: The number of children in State custody by county as well as the rate per 1,000 children in each county based on Census population data.

  • Children’s Behavioral Health:
    • Number of Children Receiving Evidence-Based Children’s Behavioral Health Services: Shows the number of children who received evidence-based services by county and type of service.
    • Access to Children’s Behavioral Health Community-Based Services: Details the number of children waiting for services by type and the average number of days they have been waiting.
    • Number of Children Receiving Residential Treatment Services: Data on the number of children who required and received residential treatment in-state as well as out-of-state.
  • Early Childhood Education:
    • Children on Subsidy Receiving High-Quality Early Childhood Education Services: Percentage of children receiving a subsidy through the Child Care Subsidy Program (CCSP) whose early childhood education provider has a quality rating score of 3 or 4 (with 4 being the highest rating).
    • Quality Rating System (QRS) Rating Levels: Details the percentage of children receiving CCSP by Quality Rating of their early childhood education program.
    • Children Served through the Child Care Subsidy Program: Shows the number of children being supported by CCSP subsidy by age group.
    • Licensed Providers: Tracks the number of licensed early childhood education providers by type and quality rating level.

OCFS recognizes that, as with any form of data, there are inherent limitations. For example, the number of children in state care doesn’t provide the context of why the children are in care, nor does it show children entering care and exiting care to permanency in a particular timeframe. The number of children receiving evidence-based behavioral health services may not be reflective of the need for these services statewide.

The information in the Dashboard reflects areas where the Department is doing well, as well as challenging areas where more work must be done to improve.

  • Within child welfare the national standard regarding safety in foster care seeks no higher than 8.5 instances of abuse/neglect per 100,000 days in State custody. Maine’s average is 4.34 per 100,000. The Dashboard’s breakdown by District reflects that while some Districts are far below the national standard, two (Districts 1 and 7) are above and further work is needed. Over the last few months, OCFS has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve the experience of becoming and being a foster parent in Maine to bring more of them into the system.
  • The statistics regarding permanency for children in State custody reflect an area in need of improvement for Maine’s child welfare system. The national standard is 40.5% (or greater) of children attaining a permanent home within 12 months. Maine’s average is currently 31%. Just as important as timely permanency is safe permanency. Nationally, the standard is that 91.7% (or greater) of children do not return to state custody within 12 months. Maine currently has a statewide average of 86%, but two counties are outperforming the national standard with District 1 at 100% and District 4 at 95%. OCFS continues to focus on seeking adoptive families and on providing support to current and prospective adoptive families. We also continue our work to ensure the availability of services and support to eliminate safety concerns, allowing families to remain together.
  • The Dashboard indicates that 671 children statewide are receiving evidence-based services within the Children’s Behavioral Health system. With over 18,000 children statewide authorized to receive at least one behavioral health service, the small number of children receiving evidence-based services indicates a need to seek innovative solutions to expand capacity and accessibility for these services statewide. This is work currently under way as OCFS pursues improvements to the Children’s Behavioral Health System.
  • In Early Childhood Education, the Dashboard shows there are 5,035 children receiving subsidy under the Child Care Subsidy Program. These children represent families where parents are able to work or attend school to improve their employment opportunities. There is currently no waiting list for the Child Care Subsidy Program.
  • Also, within Early Childhood Education, the Dashboard indicates that 21% of children receiving subsidy are being cared for by an early childhood education provider who has a quality rating score of 3 or 4. OCFS and state government as a whole, through the work of the Children’s Cabinet, is focused not just on improving access to early childhood education, but ensuring families are able to access high-quality services. The Dashboard demonstrates areas of the state that are performing above the state average, in particular Knox, Waldo, and Washington counties, which all have over 40% of children receiving subsidy at a step 3 or 4 early childhood education provider. This type of information allows OCFS and community stakeholders to better understand the system and why certain counties higher quality care have available to child and families using subsidy.

OCFS will continue to refine this tool. A feedback and suggestion form are available with the Dashboard to assist OCFS with further refinement and improvement.

OCFS is committed to sharing information about areas for improvement as well as celebrating areas of strong performance. We will continue to refine the Dashboard with the input of staff, stakeholders, clients, and the public as we work towards our shared vision of safety, stability, happiness, and health for all Maine families and children.