2016-2020 Children in foster care by county of removal in Maine

Change Indicator

Why This Indicator Matters

Why It Is Important
Children thrive when they have stable homes with their families of origin. When children experience frequent maltreatment at any point during their childhood, it can have lasting effects. That is why it is important to have a robust child welfare system to support children and families in crisis. The state takes custody of children when due to abuse or neglect, a family is not safely able to care for their children. Custody of the state is meant to be temporary until the parents are able to safely care for their children or until a permanency plan through guardianship or adoption can be made.

What The Data Shows
The number of children in the custody of the state of Maine increased in 2020. The December 2020 total of 2,204 was the highest in state custody since 2004 . The rate of youth removed from their homes and placed in foster care is more than four times as high in some counties compared to others. In 2020, half of Maine's 16 counties had rates above 10 per 1,000 children or more than 1% of all children.) These counties were: Aroostook 19.2;Somerset 17.9; Oxford, 13.1; Penobscot, 11.9; Piscataquis 11.8; Kennebec 11.7; Hancock 10.5; and Androscoggin 10.2. Meanwhile, three counties had rates below 5.0 per 1,000 children,  including Sagadahoc 4.1; Cumberland 4.4 and Washington 4.5.
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Data Provided By
Note: Non-consecutive years appear adjacent in the trend line
because one or more years have been deselected.

Definitions: The number and rate of children ages 0-­17 in the care or custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on the last day of  December of each calendar year. The denominator is the number of children ages 0 -17 per the  population estimates from the Maine Office of Vital Statistics the year before. The numerator is the number of children in state custody at a point in time during the last month of the calendar year. The county is where the child LIVED BEFORE placement into foster care. Note that the Maine total includes any children where their county of origin is not recorded.The rate is per 1,000 children ages 0-­17. These children were ordered into DHHS custody as a result of a child protection hearing where the child is found to be in jeopardy, a juvenile hearing where it would be contrary to the child’s health and welfare to remain in the care or custody of the parents, or a divorce and/or custody hearing where neither parent has been found able to provide a home in the best interest of the child. 

Footnotes: This series is based on where the child was living before being placed into foster care in the custody of Maine Department of Health and Human Services. It includes children who entered foster care or remained in foster care on the last day of December.

Updated January 2021.