Child Welfare Conference in Orono focuses on Mental Illness in Parents

Erica Stapleton

Mental illness in parents was front and center at a Child Welfare conference at U-Maine in Orono Thursday.

Child welfare professionals were there to learn about potential risk factors impacting the well-being of children.

Conference organizers say many in the field don’t know where to draw the line when it involves a parent with a mental illness.

They say understanding illnesses and looking for red flags are all part of keeping children safe.

“While it’s talked about, there are always those little risk factors out there that the workers don’t know how to address,” explains Ron Gastia, on the conference committee.  “They don’t know when it rises to that level of putting a child at risk.”

“We have days like this where we bring in speakers from other places who lend a different voice and a different set of experience, a different set of examples to help the professionals who are on the front line in making these decisions and making these assessments on a daily basis,” says Mark Mason, social worker at EMMC.  “We want them to be as prepared as possible.”

Today’s workshop topics included domestic abuse and child maltreatment.