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## Situation in Maine, USA

In the state of Maine, USA, a parent is facing a challenging situation with their 12-year-old daughter who is struggling with significant anxiety and depression, leading to school refusal and panic attacks. Despite seeking professional help from therapists, psychiatrists, and emergency mental health services, the root cause of her issues remains unresolved. The daughter’s mother, who had previously abandoned her, has recently resumed parenting responsibilities but is only involved for about 35% of the week.

## Impact on School Attendance

As a result of her mother’s absence and the ongoing mental health challenges, the daughter has only attended school for a few full days this year, with numerous partial days. The school is now required by law to report the family to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for her attendance issues. The parent is understandably concerned about the potential consequences of this report.

## Need for Legal Support

Given the complex nature of the situation and the involvement of DHHS, the parent is considering seeking legal advice to protect their daughter’s best interests. While the parent does not believe that DHHS will attempt to remove their daughter from the home, they anticipate an investigation to confirm the existing issues surrounding the mother’s absence and its impact on the daughter’s well-being.

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View Reference


  • shamrock327

    Has no one from the school brought up her potential eligibility for home-based instruction? Is there an IEP/504 in place?

  • yubitronic

    “School refusal” is the magic phrase if you’re looking for resources. Talk to her mental health team about the possibility of placing your daughter on medical leave from school to undergo more intensive treatment. We did this and it really, really helped to remove that expectation from our child for a while to work on the underlying issues.

    The other possibility is to ask the school about “chronic illness status” or something similar, where her absences are excused for being related to a chronic illness or disability. In this case the disability is severe anxiety. The school will have ways to deal with this, but in my experience they’re not going to tell you on their own.

  • jersey8894

    Due to state laws the school has to report. Talk to her medical professionals and see if they can assist you in finding a better educational environment for your daughter. View it as bringing more professionals in with her educational professionals to find a good and workable solution not as a you vs. them situation.

  • fpsmum

    My son went on medical homebound due to issues he had attending school. Get a lawyer that specializes on school issues and can help advise you in your rights. Do not let the school push you one way or the other. They will be kind and helpful to your face but may not do what’s right. Also the school district should have a director of special services that has more information and programs then the school knows and should be helping you. Keep emailing and I find cc principal, school board, and anyone you can may help. Unfortunately some kids need extra help and squeaky wheels making a ruckus get more then those swept under the rug.

  • TechTraveler

    You do not mention what grade your daughter is in but I am guessing 6th? Depending on her grade level this may be an option or at least perhaps be one for the next year.

  • MiscellaneousPerson

    You should work with her mental health professionals to get some kind of formal plan together with the school. Therapists should be familiar with the steps.

    I just want to comment about DHHS coming in. They aren’t there just to take kids away from families and get you in trouble. The goal of these departments is to keep kids with parents when possible and improve the situation. It’s very possible that they will come in and make you aware of the resources available to you, and then ensure you have a plan to utilize those resources.

  • psychick

    This child needs to be in a PHP program – partial hospitalization. It is a full day mental health program that works w the school and has the child complete some school work during the program. The rest of the day is spent on mental health, therapy, med management, family therapy etc.

    Your child also needs an IEP, stat.

    She won’t be taken away from you as long as you are accessing resources. Get her in a PHP right away! She doesn’t have a choice here. Either she goes to the program, or you will need to voluntarily hospitalize her.

  • climbing_butterfly


  • Away-Pineapple9170

    Just so you’re aware, a report to DHHS doesn’t guarantee that they’ll even get involved. They screen cases in or out depending on a preliminary investigation. You are working with professionals to address your daughter’s mental health so that will be a big factor in your favor.

  • PollutionQuick140

    I am in MA not in Maine but am going through a similar struggle with my son – not going to school bc of depression and anxiety, refuses remote instruction, 504 but no IEP, we were reported to the state for missing school and had to go to court.

    Our school system is providing a tutor for my son now that he is mentally healthy enough to tackle schoolwork. They are required to do so as his doctor confirmed that he is not able to come to school during the whole court process. We are now able to access more resources than before, some covered by insurance and some by the state mental health dept. My son now has a parole officer but she is really nice. When we first met with her I listed the bazillion things we’ve done to try to help my child and she referred us to some additional state funded resources including a PHP program. From what I can tell they just need to know we have a plan and enough resources to get our kid back to some kind of education, I hope it is the same for you.

    As far as lawyering up, they are required to provide a lawyer for any court proceedings but ours was pretty useless tbh, we didn’t need him since the parole officer seemed to do all of the work (recording what we’ve done to help our son, writing up a plan, other paperwork) but if the process continues we’ll get our own lawyer because the court provided one was ehh.