The director of Maine’s child welfare agency resigned Monday amid growing criticism and pressure from lawmakers seeking reforms after a series of child deaths.

Todd Landry, director of the Office of Child and Family Services, presented his resignation to Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, in a short letter.

Todd Landry Photo by Kevin Gaddis Jr.

“This letter is to notify you that due to personal reasons, I am submitting my resignation … effective immediately,” Landry wrote. “It has been an honor to serve the State of Maine for these last nearly five years and I thank you for the opportunity to lead this dedicated and skilled team devoted to the health and well-being of Maine children and families.”

Landry did not elaborate on the “personal reasons” leading to his resignation and could not be reached Monday.

A department spokesperson said that Bobbi Johnson, the associate director of child welfare services, will serve as the acting director until a permanent director is found. Johnson is a former caseworker and longtime administrator in the agency.

Gov. Janet Mills said in a written statement that she has directed Lambrew to conduct a comprehensive, national search for a new leader for the Office of Child and Family Services, someone who can “strengthen support for the dedicated staff at OCFS, who understands the complexity of the child welfare, child care, and children’s behavioral health systems, and who is committed to the hard work of making needed improvements.


“The Office of Child and Family Services has made many important and meaningful strides over the last several years. We also recognize there is much more work to be done,” Mills said. “In the meantime, my administration will continue to work with the Legislature and stakeholders to consider any and all good ideas that improve child health and safety – critical work that I will continue to support under the next leader of OCFS.”

Landry’s resignation comes after lawmakers scrutinized his leadership over the last two years, attention that intensified recently when several caseworkers in the office testified publicly about a lack of support from upper management and other problems within the agency.

Even the department’s own federally mandated report released in September indicated that, despite investments and changes within the office, the state was getting worse at preventing children from being repeatedly abused and neglected.

The 2024 annual progress and services report said the rate at which children in Maine experience recurring maltreatment is twice the national average. And the agency adequately identified risk and safety concerns in half the cases reviewed, but it adequately addressed and monitored risks only 26% of the time.

Public testimony from caseworkers has highlighted how staffing shortages, allegedly made worse by poor leadership, was leading to high caseloads and burnout for frontline workers.

Lawmakers on the Government Oversight Committee were informed of Landry’s resignation in an email from DHHS’ director of government relations at around 11:15 a.m.


The GOC has been receiving detailed reviews of cases in which children who had a history with the Department of Health and Human Services were killed by a family member.

The most recent report, compiled by an evaluation of confidential case files and interviews by the Office Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, found “errors on top of errors” leading up to the killing of 3-week-old Jaden Harding in 2021.

OPEGA, the Legislature’s watchdog agency, noted that agency leaders agreed that mistakes were made and changes were needed, but no managers ever shared those lessons with the caseworker.

“To this day, there is a caseworker that is working right now who has not been coached on the things that went wrong here,” OPEGA Director Peter Schleck told lawmakers on Nov. 15.

The GOC also has been hearing public testimony from front-line child protective services workers, including caseworkers and mandatory reporters, such as school officials.

Caseworkers have told lawmakers that a lack of support from upper management in the central office is making it difficult to retain and hire for open caseworker positions. The open positions are leading to increased caseloads and workloads, including mandatory overtime for existing workers when they have to staff hotels and emergency rooms where children are in state custody.


They described Landry as being hostile at district-level meetings and dismissive of ideas to fix the struggling system. A Lewiston caseworker described how a co-worker was not given any time off when a child client died and she had to plan the funeral and write the obituary.

At the following meeting, another Lewiston caseworker described her office as a “war zone,” with 32 of the 73 caseworker positions being vacant and little communication from management about what’s being done to fill those positions.

“It really does feel like we’re on a sinking ship,” Stacey Hensen-Drake told lawmakers. “When you don’t have the chief or the captain saying, ‘Don’t worry. This is what we’re doing to fix this. Hang on tight,’ it’s frightening.”

Landry did not attend OPEGA’s presentation of the Harding case file nearly two weeks ago. The oversight committee is slated to hold a public hearing Wednesday on the report and hear from more front-line workers.

Assistant Republican Senate Minority Leader Lisa Keim, who serves on the oversight committee, said that Landry’s leadership has been “ineffective, if not worse,” and criticized the administration for not ousting him before his resignation.

Keim, R-Dixfield, noted that lawmakers from both parties put Landry on notice at the last committee meeting he attended.


“At Todd Landry’s last meeting with the GOC we made our lack of confidence in Landry’s leadership clear,” Keim said. “Front-line workers, who have even more recently shared their experience with Landry and OCFS’ Central Office, further cemented the committee’s opinion of his poor leadership.”

Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio, D-Sanford, also questioned Landry’s leadership at the October meeting but declined to comment on the resignation.

Despite requests to their spokespersons, neither Lambrew nor Mills has been available for an interview in recent weeks to discuss the issues raised by caseworkers or Landry’s leadership.

Before becoming the OCFS director in April 2019, Landry was the chief executive officer of the Lena Pope Home in Fort Worth, Texas, a nonprofit that serves children and families. He also served for three years as director of Nebraska’s Division of Child and Family Services.

Oversight committee co-chairs Sen. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, and Rep. Jessica Fay, D-Raymond, wished Landry well in joint statement.

“We look forward to working with Acting Director Johnson to continue addressing the challenges facing our child welfare system and ensure that all Maine children are safe,” they said. “In the meantime, the work of the Government Oversight Committee will continue, and we will be providing our report and recommendations to the Legislature in the coming weeks and months.”

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