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A System of Care for Nebraska

Last week, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services held an initial stakeholder meeting on planning for a “System of Care” for Nebraska kids with behavioral health issues.  Several challenges over the past few years have brought to light the need to better serve Nebraska youth and families facing behavioral health issues in their communities.

The Safe Haven Crisis in 2008 — where older children were left at hospitals when parents felt unable to address their needs — highlighted the challenges that many families were facing.  In addition, there have been families who have spoken publicly about having to become involved with the child welfare system in order to access services for their child.

The Legislature passed LB 603 in 2009, which created a “front door” to our behavioral health system with the establishment of the Nebraska Family Helpline, but there is still work to be done on building the rest of our behavioral health system.  The grant Nebraska received from the federal government to plan for a system of care is an opportunity to start to do that.

A system of care is intended to be:

  1. Driven by the needs of families and youth;
  2. Based in the community;
  3. Culturally and linguistically competent.

The end goal is a coordinated network of community-based services capable of meeting the behavioral health needs of youth and their families.

In order to truly form a system of care, we have to ensure not only that external stakeholders are working collaboratively with the state but also that the different state departments that serve the same families are working together.  State government has long been accused of having “silos” that don’t allow for a broader perspective on how to best use resources to meet a family’s needs.  It will be important that all the state departments the serve vulnerable families — ranging from services for individuals with disabilities to child welfare to Medicaid — are collaborating toward the same goal.

The goal of establishing a system of care is an important one for Nebraska kids and we hope that the planning process lays a solid foundation for ensuring that our state’s kids are able to access the resources they need to reach their full potential.

You can learn more about a system of care, take the online stakeholder survey or contact the Department of Health and Human Services at  dhhs.soc@nebraska.gov for more information on how to become involved in planning for a system of care.


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