In 2019, newly elected Maine Gov Janet Mills brought in Todd Landry to lead the state’s Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS). Landry entered the fray not long after the state had experienced two child deaths: one of whom was the subject of 25 reports in her last 16 months of life, the other who had been placed by OCFS with a relative while her mother sought treatment for addiction.
This week, four years later, Landry resigned amid an intense legislative investigation into the state’s child welfare system that was largely prompted by another highly covered death: that of Jaden Harding, an infant who was killed by his father Ronald Harding in 2021. Harding was found guilty of manslaughter in September and sentenced to 15 years in prison with a portion of that time suspended by the judge.
Landry cited personal reasons for leaving the position, but the timing is hard to ignore. A watchdog agency this month slammed OCFS for its handling of Jaden Harding. And Landry was expected to testify before the state legislature’s Government Oversight Office this week, which has also recently heard testimony from frontline workers about the effect that turnover and scores of vacant jobs have had on morale and performance.
Bobbi Johnson, associate director of child welfare services in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, will fill in as the acting director of OCFS until the department identifies a permanent leader, according to reporting from the Bangor Daily News.