FREE TRAINING for Comprehensive Emergency Operations Planning: A Framework for Fall 2020

Maine Department of Education is proud to announce that our Maine School Safety Center Team will be hosting a series for all School Administrative Units (SAUs) and their Collaborative Planning Team members to create or review their Emergency Operations Plans.  These plans should serve as the framework for any emergency planning and response effort, and requires a whole community approach. While it is still too early to finalize guidance for schools in Fall of 2020, by participating in this training, SAUs will be optimally positioned to apply forthcoming guidance to their existing frameworks.

This eight week series, beginning June 9 and occurring every Tuesday at 10:00 am, will walk participants through the comprehensive framework, from which all emergency response plans are built, and will include expert presenters for the individual topics and training that was developed by Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS).

Week 1: Overview of the Six Step Planning Process (1 hour)
Week 2: Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) (1 hour)
Week 3: Continuity of Operations Annex (1.5 hours)
Week 4: Recovery Annex (1.5 hours)
Week 5: Infectious Diseases Annex – broad coverage (1 hour)
Week 6: Integrating Disabilities (1.5 hours)
Week 7: Bereavement and Loss Annex (1.5 hours)
Week 8: Understanding Resilience and Developing a Self-Care Plan (1 hour)

Your Collaborative Planning Team should include your school nurse, administrators, educators, and representatives from transportation, food service, local emergency responders, and your local or regional community health experts, and we encourage you to share the registration with them.

When timely guidance for Fall 2020 is provided, additional training that builds upon this framework will be provided by Maine School Safety Center, and will ensure all SAUs have the necessary tools to make sound decisions for the safety and well-being of your school communities.

Please register in advance of the meeting, here.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Contact hours will be available at the conclusion of the series.

MEDIA RELEASE: NAMI Maine Launches Teen Peer Support Text Line 

Text Line Aims to Provide Mental Health Support During COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond

Maine’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Maine) has announce the launch of the Teen Text Support Line, a new mental health program for youth 14 – 20 years of age living in Maine.

The Text Line can be reached at (207) 515 – 8398 (TEXT). The Teen Text Support Line operates from 12pm – 10pm each day and provides adolescents who may need additional mental health support with a safe space to talk with another young person. Staff providing support via the Teen Text Line are between 19 – 23 years of age.

“NAMI Maine is focused on providing mental health support to all Mainers,” says NAMI Maine CEO Jenna Mehnert. “We saw the need to create a mental health peer support teen text line and were able to launch this new resource.”

“In this time when routines are changing more than ever, it is important for youths to have some connection to others who can understand some of the struggles and disappointments that we are experiencing,” says one Maine 8th grader. According to the 2019 Maine KIDS COUNT Data Book, Maine’s youth have the highest rate of diagnosed anxiety in the nation, and the country’s third highest rate of diagnosed depression among children aged 3 – 17.

The Teen Text Line is not a crisis line. If you believe that you or someone you know could be in crisis, please do not hesitate to connect with the Maine Crisis Line via phone or text at (888) 568-1112.

Through support, education, and advocacy NAMI Maine is dedicated to building better lives for the one in four Mainers who are affected by mental illness.

For more information, visit www.namimaine.org/page/teentextline, or contact NAMI Maine’s CEO Jenna Mehnert at (207) 907-0303 or jenna@namimaine.org.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Spotting Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect During the COVID-19 Emergency: An Updated Guide for Educational Professionals and Others who Care for Maine Children

The Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) issued the following updated guidance for education professionals and others who care for Maine children.

Spotting Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect During the COVID-19 Emergency: An Updated Guide for Educational Professionals and Others who Care for Maine Children

Download this notice as a PDF »
Download an infographic of this information »

SUPPORT FOR MAINE’S CHILDREN AND FAMILIES:

In our great state of Maine, we are fortunate to have many talented professionals who positively impact the lives of children on a regular basis, and who continue to do so during this time of intense challenge. Teachers, principals, social workers, mental health providers, and countless other professionals have quickly transitioned to supporting youth and families virtually via phone, video, text, email, and other online resources. Maintaining contact with children and their caregivers is critical to supporting our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS), relies on professionals, community and family members, and others to recognize and report child abuse and neglect concerns. OCFS recognizes that the current pandemic may increase stress, fear, isolation, financial instability, potentially creating higher risk for both child abuse and domestic violence within families. Professionals, community and family members, and others must continue networking with families to provide needed support, guidance and outreach, so that any observed concerns of suspected abuse or neglect can be reported.

HOW TO IDENTIFY SIGNS OF CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT WHILE WORKING WITH FAMILIES:

First, take a deep breath and know that we are all in this together. As “helpers” who work with children and families you may experience added strain and worry for the families you work with, which takes an additional toll on each of you. Don’t forget to take care of you and your family, while also being there for those you support – be it in a classroom, therapy session, or other environment.

Even from a distance, there are ways to help to connect with children and families during this time:

Regularly engage with children and their caregivers and make it clear how you can be contacted and when you plan to meet, even if virtually. Children thrive on knowing what to expect, and this is particularly important now as children are surrounded by uncertainty and stress in our world and homes.

Acknowledge when working with children and families that virtual contact and communication will look different and is a change for all of us. Explain how video chats, online forums, and phone calls will work and point out what you hope can be familiar for children in these interactions. *See additional resources below regarding how to stay virtually connected to families.

Ensure the ability to have conversations in private when talking to children and families.

Talk to children and their caregivers and listen to their stories. It is important that each person can share their experiences and frustrations, and understand that feeling “upside down” right now is normal and to be expected. Pay attention to the environment during video chats, changes in child or adult behaviors, and to families with whom you are unable to engage or make contact.

Be curious and ask questions of children and caregivers about how they are doing, what is going well, and what concerns them about their current environment. For example, ask children: How are you feeling? What was the best/hardest part of your day? What did you have for breakfast? What do you like best about being home? What do you miss about being at school? What worries you?

Recognize as educators and professionals that you can’t do this alone. It is the responsibility of each of us to collaborate and provide a network of support and resources for families. Suggest resources and refer families to additional support as needed. *See additional resources below.

CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT: TYPES AND REPORTING

There are four main types of abuse: PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, SEXUAL, and NEGLECT. Below are some potential signs of abuse and neglect that could indicate a child may not be safe:

PHYSICAL abuse:

  • Child has bruising, welts, burns, bite marks, broken bones or other injuries that are not explained,
  • appear to be inflicted, or are suspicious.
  • Child may report having pain caused by parental behavior, though have no obvious signs of injury.
  • Child has been directly present in a room where domestic violence incidents have occurred.
  • Behaviorally, child may appear to be afraid of caregiver(s) and flinch when around them.

EMOTIONAL abuse:

  • Child may appear withdrawn, sad, or emotionally unattached to caregivers.
  • Caregiver is known or heard to repeatedly blame, belittle, or berate the child.
  • Child is aware of and exposed to domestic violence incidents between caregivers.

SEXUAL abuse:

  • Child may describe being sexually touched by a parent, caregiver, or other person in the home.
  • Child may demonstrate unusual sexual knowledge or behavior for their age.

NEGLECT:

  • Child is witnessing illegal substance use by caregivers, and/or has access to unsafe items in the home.
  • Child is not being supervised adequately for their age and developmental ability.
  • Child’s primary needs for food, education or, medical, dental, or mental health care are not being met

IMPORTANT: Please obtain as much detail as possible regarding any concerns, such as WHEN/WHERE an incident occurred, HOW something made the child feel, or WHAT injuries look like (size, shape, location). Ask open ended follow up questions to clarify information.

Additional information regarding law which defines Maine abuse and neglect can be found here: http://mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/22/title22sec4002.html

ANY person can report abuse/neglect. Persons who work professionally with children are required by law to report suspicions of abuse or neglect. It is NOT necessary for a reporter to first verify that the abuse or neglect has occurred. Click here for Maine’s Mandated Reporter Law

The Maine Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) operates the statewide hotline for child abuse and neglect. Trained staff are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take reports and answer questions.

To Report Child Abuse and Neglect call: 
1-800-452-1999

Deaf/Heard of Hearing Call Maine Relay 711

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR RECOGNIZING AND REPORTING CHILD ABUSE/NEGLECT:

RESOURCES FOR EDUCATORS AND PROVIDERS TO STAY VIRTUALLY CONNECTED WITH FAMILIES:

OTHER STATEWIDE RESOURCES IN MAINE:

  • Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child and Family Services 1-877-452-1999 https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/
  • 2-1-1 Maine, Inc. (Free information & Referral): Dial 211 or 1-877-463-6207 (Out of State) https://211maine.org/
  • Office of Financial Independence (OFI) Support and Services: OFI Main Telephone Line 1-(800)-442-6003
  • Maine Unemployment Hotline: 1-(800)-593-8660 https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/
  • Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse: 1-800-624-8404 (Voice) or 711 (Maine Relay)
  • Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222 (Voice) 1-877-299-4447 (TTY) Northern New England Poison Center
  • Maine Statewide Crisis Hotline 1-888-568-1112 (Voice/TTY) (Crisis Hotline)
  • Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program
  • Domestic Violence Hotline 1-866-834-HELP (4357) www.mcedv.org

ON BEHALF OF THE MAINE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, OFFICE OF CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES, WE APPRECIATE THE ONGOING WORK OF EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE AND MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDERS AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS IN JOINING WITH US TO KEEP MAINE’S CHILDREN AND FAMILIES SAFE AND HEALTHY.

March 27th is International SEL Day

Urban Assembly and SEL4US encourage educators around the World to recognize the importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) on this International SEL Day.

Kellie D. Bailey MA CCC-SLP, MMT/SELI began her work here at the Maine DOE on Feburary 6, 2020 to support Commissioner Makin’s educational platform for putting the social emotional learning needs first for all Maine students. Commissioner Makin knows first hand that when we teach from the heart we are truly seeing each child and paying attention on purpose to the unique being that he or she is.

SEL is the most effective way of building strong and meaningful connections which ultimately leads to optimal learning.  Until the outbreak of COVID 19, Kellie worked in the field providing SEL supports across the State of Maine. Today she continues to do so remotely providing Brain Based SEL supports with her colleague Bear Shea first thing in the morning and the last thing in the afternoon. “SEL is for all human beings.  Our educators and school support staff are facing unprecedented times and they are feeling the effects of not being able to connect with their students and colleagues. There is an overwhelming sense of urgency for the well being of our students, staff and community. Now more than ever it is critically important to check in with ourselves and ask the question, How Am I Doing Right This Minute? Staying tuned into our own anxiety and taking the important steps to center and ground ourselves is the most effective way to stay resilient for our students who are counting on us to send the message that they are safe.

Kellie reminds everyone involved with education to take moments to self reflect and check in with the self. Recognition of how one feels and where that feeling lives in the body, heart and mind is the first step in development of our own social intelligence. Kellie adds that “Moving away from the automaticity of our lives and becoming present for small moments will make a tremendous difference in how we cope with the stressors related to COVID 19 and life in general. Practicing being present and noticing basic needs and taking care to provide ourselves with those needs allows us to continue to be present for others with a deeper connection. On this first International SEL Day, may we each feel safe, connected, safe and loved and take a few small moments to Breathe on Purpose.”

Open Invitation for Maine School Staff: Brain Centered Emotional Support Sessions Available Twice Daily

All Maine school staff (admins, educators, bus drivers, nutrition staff, nurses, ed techs, and support staff) invited to join Maine Department of Education Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Specialist Kellie D. Bailey and Mental Health/School Counselor Specialist Bear Shea for virtual mental wellness sessions bookending the beginning and end of each day.

The sessions will be 15 minutes each providing a time to bolster resilience and a chance to connect and share space with school professionals around the state in response to the care and wellbeing of YOU during the COVID-19 crisis.

One session will be available at the beginning of the day and one at the end of the day, occurring Monday through Friday for as long as needed. Each session will hold a maximum of 500 people and be available at the same zoom link each time: https://zoom.us/j/689251005

Brain Centered Emotional Support Sessions:

  • 8:30am, M-F, Kellie Bailey, SEL Specialist
  • 3:30pm, M-F, Bear Shea, Mental Health Specialist

Department also continues to offer daily, content specific virtual sessions for Maine Educators during the COVID-19 emergency. The sessions provide support and guidance regarding distance learning and school supports and help facilitate networking and resource sharing between Maine educators. An updated schedule of virtual sessions is available here.