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Legislature Continues Child Welfare Work

Less than 20 days remain in the 2014 Legislative Session. While there’s still a lot of work for legislators to do, there is already some important progress being made for kids and families involved with the child welfare system.

Child welfare has been a major priority of the Legislature in recent years, as they have worked to not only provide stability to the system but also promote reform. And while the state’s child welfare may no longer be grabbing headlines, the Legislature is maintaining their commitment to making sure our system keeps kids safe, provides them loving, permanent homes, and makes families stronger.

This week and last week, the Legislature advanced a number of child welfare bills that will strengthen our system for years to come. Here’s a quick rundown on the bills that are one step closer to the legislative finish line:

  • Last Friday, the Legislature advanced LB 853, introduced by Senator McGill. This bill is intended to strengthen and provide some clean-up from last year’s LB 216, which provided supports and opportunities for permanency for older youth in the child welfare system.
  • Also on Friday, the Legislature took action to implement an alternative response pilot project, by attaching an amendment to LB 853.This project, originally proposed in Senator Coash’s LB 503, would ensure that the front door of our child welfare system is no longer a “one size fits all approach” and instead give more flexibility to better address the needs of low and moderate risk cases.
  • On Tuesday, lawmakers advanced a budget that included $1.5 million for the next two fiscal years to help state wards with developmental disabilities find loving, permanent homes. The State Ward Permanency Pilot Project was originally proposed in LB 936.
  • Late Wednesday afternoon, the Legislature took a step towards ensuring continued stability in our child welfare system. LB660 would allow the case management pilot project in Douglas and Sarpy counties to continue and provide an independent evaluation.

Even when sessions are short and competing priorities abound, it is encouraging to see that Nebraska’s legislators are committed to making our child welfare system work for kids and families. We hope that this work continues not just for this session, but into future sessions as well.

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