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LB 821: Create the Nebraska Children’s Commission and Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare

As Introduced: The bill created the Nebraska Children’s Commission with voting membership from all three branches of government and a variety of stakeholders. It also required DHHS and the Children’s Commission to prepare legislation that would create a Department of Children’s Services by January 1, 2013. In addition, LB 821 authorized a study and evaluation of the use children’s Medicaid dollars.

As Amended: The bill still creates the 24-member Nebraska Children’s Commission, but limits voting members to the CEO of DHHS and Director of Children and Family Services and stakeholders appointed by the Governor. All representatives of the Legislature and Judiciary branches are non-voting. The Commission will create a strategic plan for child welfare services and make recommendations on possible administrative restructuring of child welfare services by December 15, 2012. The commission will hire an independent facilitator. Separate sub-committees will look at:

  1. Policy for prescribing psychotropic drugs to state wards;
  2. The role and responsibilities of the Office of Juvenile Services;
  3. Title IV- E waivers; and
  4. Foster Care Reimbursements.

DHHS is also required to contract with an independent Medicaid evaluator. LB 821 also creates an Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare within the office of Public Counsel and appointed with the approval of the chairperson of the HHS and Executive Committee for five year terms.

The bill also lays out requirements for private child welfare lead agencies and contracts entered into after the bill takes effect:

  1. Nebraska residents must make up at least 51% of the board of directors
  2. Complete a readiness assessment to determine the agency’s viability
  3. Have the ability to provide services directly or through contracts with community partners
  4. Be accountable for meeting outcomes and standards related to child welfare policy nationally and in Nebraska.

Introducing Senator: Health and Human Services Committee (Campbell, Gloor, Cook, Bloomfield, Howard, Krist, Lambert), Nordquist, McGill, Pirsch  – HHS Priority Bill

Committee: Health and Human Services

Committee Hearing Date: February 1, 2012

Current Status:  Signed by the Governor, April 11, 2012

Estimated Fiscal Impact: During FY2012, $292,000 in General Funds and $100,000 in Federal Funds will be spent. Once the Medicaid evaluation is complete, the cost of the bill in FY2013 will be $292,000 in General Funds.

Voices for Children’s Position: Support (see our testimony here).

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