For years, Nebraska’s child welfare system has been broken and underfunded. Children and families have been repeatedly let down, and over the past few years of privatization have faced increased instability and turmoil in their already uncertain lives.
Yesterday, Nebraska’s Legislature took leadership and advanced a number of bills aimed at charting a solid, stable course forward for child welfare:
- LB 821 creates the Children’s Comission, a diverse stakeholder body that also includes representatives from all three branches of government, which will be for creating a strategic plan for child welfare. The bill also creates an Inspector General for Child Welfare.
- LB 1160 deals with data and reporting. The bill includes planning for a system to replace NFOCUS, DHHS’ aging, ineffective data system, as well as annual reporting requirements for DHHS and the Legislature’s HHS Committee.
- LB 949 requires performance-based budgeting and helps ensure fiscal transparency in our child welfare system.
- LB 820 requires that DHHS apply for a Title IV-E waiver, creates a committee to establish a fair rate of payment for foster parents and kin placements, provides an extra payment to these placements over the next year. It also makes changes to foster care licensure.
The Legislature debated 4 of the 5 bills yesterday, all of them passing to Select File without a single “No” vote. This is a testiment to the leadership of Senator Kathy Campbell and the HHS Committee and their careful, thoughtful preparation of this legislation.
Today, the Legislature resumed debate on LB 961. This bill establishes a clear caseload for child welfare workers that is in line with national standards- a great step forward for kids! The bill also mandates a return of child welfare case management to the state by September 1st of this year, a timeline we have concerns about.
Stay tuned for more child welfare updates and opportunities to advocate on behalf of Nebraska’s kids!