PARIS — The Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of finding new agencies to oversee the clients of two case management services that are under investigation.
State and federal agencies seized records from businesses at 172 Main St. and 180 Main St. in Norway last week. The investigation is ongoing. The agencies included the Office of the Maine Attorney General, Maine State Police, Oxford County Sheriff's Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the U.S. Inspector General.
The building at 180 Main St. contains the offices of the Living Independence Network Corp. and Infinite Horizons, both case management services for children with developmental disabilities and emotional and behavioral problems. Records from the Maine Department of Secretary of State, Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions list Dawn Cummings Solomon of Norway as the president, treasurer and sole director of those two businesses and of Opal Consulting and New Horizon Capital Management at 172 Main St.
“The businesses that were raided last week have decided to cease operations,” said Kate Simmons, spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office.
John Martins, spokesman for DHHS, said LINC and Infinite Horizons were serving about 50 children at the time of the investigation. He said he was unsure how many employees the halt of operations was affecting.
“We do have a transition plan in place, and we are working with our clients to continue our services,” Martins said.
According to the services' websites, LINC focused on “supporting children to achieve their goals of independence through skill development and by partnering with the child’s community to foster natural support systems.” Infinite Horizons provides case management services for children and adolescents and aims to “provide opportunities that enhance quality of life for all people and encourage them to realize their dreams.”
Diane Mottram, who worked as a part-time direct service professional with LINC for three and a half years and managed one case, said she was able to work from the time of the raid until she was informed Wednesday evening that LINC would cease operations. She said the relationship between a professional and a child is important for building a relationship and trust.
“You go in and you have to form a bond with that child, number one, and you have to get along well with the family,” she said. “It's more complicated than just saying, 'I'm here; now what do I do?'”
Bill Carsley, who worked as a part-time direct service professional with LINC for two years and managed one case, said professionals were not informed of any changes due to the investigation until Wednesday and many continued to work in the interim.
“All of the people who I had any contact with in the office in administrative functions always were very professional," Carsley said. "It was always very clear to me that they cared very much about the families and the work we did. I would be very surprised if anyone in the LINC office was involved in anything unethical or illegal.”
Gail Geraghty, who worked with LINC as a part-time direct service professional managing one case for the past five years, said she was disappointed that the halt in operations came as the state cuts back on services for the developmentally disabled.
“I feel that it didn't need to happen because no indictments have come down, and it leaves both the clients and the direct support professionals in the position of scrambling in trying to keep these services going for these kids, because that's the most important thing,” Geraghty said.
She said direct support professionals were trained at Opal Consulting. According to a memo provided by Geraghty, Cummings Solomon informed LINC employees in May that regulatory changes and state cuts would necessitate the elimination of medical insurance, the company contribution to dental coverage, the company match to retirement savings, tuition reimbursement and benefit accrual for part-time employees.
Mottram said DHHS would try to find agencies that would take on both clients and the professionals who have worked with them.
“The families are going to be transferred fairly easily, but are the (direct support professionals) going to be as happy, is the question,” she said. “We're happy to keep our clients, don't get me wrong, but are we going to be happy with another agency's rules and regulations and the amount of pay we get?”