The Sun Journal analyzed data from Maine Department of Health and Human Services reports on child welfare, including 18 years of annual child protective services reports, annual reports on Office of Child and Family Services staffing that dates back to 2018 and reports of child fatalities from 2007 to 2021.

An analysis of the annual Child Protective Services reports looked at the number of referrals received by OCFS from 2003 to 2020 and calculated the percentage that were not assigned for assessment, assigned for assessment by an OCFS caseworker and that were assigned to a contract agency via DHHS’s Alternative Response Program, which was phased out at the end of 2021.

Data on the rate of substance use as a factor for a child’s removal comes directly from the 2021 CPS report.

The Sun Journal also aggregated data on caseworker staffing and open positions from 2018 to 2021 using annual caseload and workload reports, which DHHS has been statutorily required to publish since 2019.

Data on child deaths comes directly from the DHHS website, where it reports the number of child deaths, the age and gender of the child and the cause of death from 2007 to 2021. DHHS began tracking that data in 2007.


The Sun Journal obtained annual financial data for Maine school districts from the 2005-06 school year through the 2020-21 school year through a Freedom of Access Act request made to the Maine Department of Education.

Because of a 2007 law that required some school districts to consolidate in order to form regional school units, lowering the number of districts in Maine from 290 to about 160, the Sun Journal limited its analysis to the 2009-10 school year onward.

The financial data provided by the DOE showed per pupil expenditures in all budget categories, rather than total costs, which could vary vastly from district to district depending on its size.

The Sun Journal focused on three funding categories: special education, regular instruction and overall expenditures (total money spent per student in the district). The analysis then calculated the year-over-year changes to expenditures in all three categories for comparison.

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