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ME Sen. Bill Diamond wants access to DHHS case files

Sen. Bill Diamond wrote a letter to the Government Oversight Committee urging them to put pressure on DHHS for four child death investigations.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland, sent a letter to the Government Oversight Committee on Tuesday, urging them to push back against DHHS' decision to withhold the case files of four children who were killed last year.

"The department said, 'No, you can't see that, we're not giving it to you,'" Diamond said.

DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew wrote in a letter to the committee a few weeks ago that the department made this decision after the advice of the Office of the Attorney General, citing the upcoming criminal trials in the cases.

"It makes one wonder what are they trying to hold back here from the committee," Diamond added.

The cases in question are Jaden Harding, Hailey Goding, Maddox Williams, and Sylus Melvin. All four were children who were in the custody of their parents when they died.

Rep. Holly Stover, D-Boothbay, is one of the chairs of the Government Oversight Committee. She said the reason lawmakers want to see these documents is to learn where recommendations can be made.

"[For example] how they're conducting their assessments, how their assigning cases, and it's all part of a systemic review," Stover said.

Rep. Stover added that the committee also wants to see if job vacancies have been filled because caseworkers say the workload has been a problem.

The Government Oversight Committee will meet on Sept. 21 and likely discuss this issue.

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