Child Abuse & Neglect

The Maine Office of Child and family Services (OFCS) operates the statewide hotline for child abuse and neglect. Highly trained staff is available to guide callers through the process of making a report of suspected abuse and neglect. Anyone who suspects an individual of child abuse or neglect in encouraged to call the Protective Hotline:

CALL: 1-800-452-1999

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Call Maine Relay 711

As Mandated Reporters any provider/staff suspecting Abuse or Neglect must immediately report this information to Child Protective Intake Services, 1-800-452-1999, TTY 1-800- 963-9490 which is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Policy and Procedures

Country Fun Child Care believes it is important to remember each child is part of a family and a strong relationship between us that supports you in raising a healthy, happy child is our goal. We understand every household has a different parenting style and at Country Fun Child Care we strive to understand and respect the rights of parents. However we also know some parenting styles may place a child at risk of harm and/or injury. Country Fun Child Care sees a responsibility to provide support and education to our families in an effort to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Maine law identifies any child care worker as a mandated reporter, as such we MUST contact the appropriate authorities when faced with the suspicion that a child is being abused or neglected, or witnesses an incident. Mandated reporters may not report anonymously. Mandated reporters are required to take training in child abuse/neglect recognition, prevention and mandated reporting laws.

Reporting Abuse and Neglect

A report must be made when the reporter suspects or has reasons to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected. Waiting for absolute proof may result in significant risk to the child. It is not the provider’s/staff’s job to validate the abuse; this is the job of CPS caseworkers or law enforcement officers who have been trained to undertake this type of investigation. When a provider or staff member suspects that a child is being abused or neglected, they will follow this procedure:  

  1. When there is reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect, provider and/or staff shall report it to the appropriate community agency.
  2. When providing information about the family, provider and/or staff will be conscious of the rights of children and parents. Great care will be taken to ensure the confidentiality of information and to share it only with those persons officially involved in the case. 
  3. If there is any question about whether the abuse/neglect is reportable, the provider will consult their state licensing specialist for advice about the procedure to follow.
  4. Country Fun Child Care will follow any of the mandated procedures by DHHS.
  5. Written documentation is made of suspected abuse/neglect.
  6. Country Fun Child Care will preserve the confidentiality of all records pertaining to child abuse and neglect.
  7. The provider will represent Country Fun Child Care in any discussions with the child’s family.
  8. The provider will follow up to ensure that appropriate action has been taken.
  9. When appropriate, parents or legal guardians will be informed by Country FUn Child Care that the referral has been made.

When an employee/house member is suspected or accused of abuse/neglect of a child at Country Fun Child Care, the plan of action is as follows:

  1. When there is reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect, provider and/or staff shall report it to the appropriate community agency.
  2. Documentation of the accusation is made.
  3. Once notified of the accusation Provider and/or Staff will give a written account of the situation in question. 
  4. DHHS/licensing specialist is notified of the situation. 
  5. Country Fun Child Care will follow the procedure outlined by DHHS for this type of situation.
  • Staff who plead guilty to or are convicted of child abuse/neglect must inform the Provider.
  • Any staff who is found guilty of child abuse or neglect will be terminated immediately.

Once cases of child abuse or neglect have been reported, they must be investigated and verified. All states and territories have specific requirements for the initial response by agencies receiving reports of child abuse and neglect. In most states, a screening process is used to determine whether a report will be accepted; this process includes a review of the report in the context of the state’s definitions of child abuse and neglect. Every state mandates that child protective services begin an investigation within a timely manner, usually within 72 hours, and in even less time when there is reasonable cause to believe that the child is in imminent danger.

There are many things child care providers can do to prevent abuse and protect themselves from false allegations. At Country Fun Child Care, program policies are regularly reviewed and play areas are continually assessed with prevention in mind to help eliminate potential problems. Country Fun Child Care provides education resources for staff and volunteers about child abuse as part of creating a safe environment for children and adults. The following guidelines may help keep children safe and reduce the risk of abuse and neglect in the child care setting:

  • The Family Child Care Licensing Rule requires criminal background checks for all staff, volunteers and house members.
  • Check of at least two references before hiring a staff person and volunteer if unknown to Country Fun Child Care.
  • Access ongoing training to learn current information about the care, development and guidance of children and about child abuse issues.
  • Maintain appropriate child-to-staff ratios and small group sizes.
  • Encourage parents/legal guardians to join in your activities and to drop into the program whenever they can.
  • Structure environment so no adult present on the Premises will be alone with one child out of sight and/or sound of other children and adults.

Make sure all staff members and volunteers understand appropriate and inappropriate ways to interact with children. The following are some basic behavior guidelines:

  • Never hit or strike a child.
  • Do not use physical punishment of any kind.
  • Hugs are okay if they are appropriate, as long as the child and the provider/staff are both comfortable. Take clues from the body language of the child, or simply ask, “Is it okay for me to hug you?” As the adult, if you do not feel comfortable with a hug from a child, tell them in a gentle way and suggest an alternative, such as holding your hand or touching your shoulder or arm.
  • Respect a child’s personal boundaries. Like adults, children have preferences about contact. Remember that some individuals like being close and getting hugs, but others don’t like a lot of close contact.
  • Infants and toddlers are at an especially high risk of being abused or neglected, partly because they cannot tell someone about the abuse. If these ages are in care, providers/staff need to access training focused on child development specifically for infants and toddlers.

Design of Child Care Environment
  • Set up your child care environment to make it easy to supervise all of the children at once.
  • Design play and other areas so that children can be viewed at all times.
  • Include some quiet areas for children while still being sure those areas can be seen by provider/staff.
  • Bathroom time needs close supervision. Allowing some privacy in the bathroom if a child requests it does not necessarily mean a closed door. You may want to have a policy stating that only one child uses the bathroom at a time. It can be as simple as everyone has backs to when waiting to use the bathroom. Mixed ages, as well as the needs of the individual children in care, will direct your policies.
  • Consideration is given to the appropriate ages and capacity for the program.